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Wick's Review

Created Nov 07, 2021 06:12AM PST • Edited Dec 26, 2021 05:27PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Matt Damon succeeds grandly in The Last Duel, a gloriously old-fashioned yet manifestly modern movie. This epic hews closely to the apparent history of the last duel-to-the-death in medieval France, a time of knights-in-shining-armor during the Hundred Years’ War. Hollywood was invented for movies like this.

    Plus, The Last Duel is a Ridley Scott movie, the great Scott being a past master of sword fighting epics produced with big budgets and bigger FX, including 1492: Conquest of Paradise, the immortal Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Those are some great movies, as is this.

    It’s also a long movie, at 2½ hours, enough runtime to present three variations of the story, one each from Matt Damon’s knight, his wife, and the sumbitch who was once his friend. It never drags, so enter the theater with an empty bladder or miss something compelling. This is some mighty entertaining history.

    The movie has been wrongly described as feminist. I’m not a feminist so am not the best judge, but telling a multi-sided story – that includes rape – from all sides, including the woman’s side, is well rounded story telling. Plus, men as a gender are not scapegoated. In short, don’t avoid the movie for political reasons.

    Do avoid it for its traumatizing violence, if you are sensitive. OTOH see it, in part, because of its riveting and often fascinating fighting. I fell in the latter camp and emerged from The Last Duel a sated victor.

  3. Great 4.0
    Damon • Comer • Driver • Affleck
    • Matt Damon ably carries the movie as an increasingly grizzled warrior. Age and a well-placed scar have a salutarily leavening effect on the handsome Damon, as on fellow screen-idol Brad Pitt in war movies like Fury. Damon’s Sir Jean de Carrouges was a legendary French knight during the Hundred Years’ War, becoming legendary by fighting the Last Duel.
    • Jodie Comer plays his wife Marguerite as a strong woman who refused to be victimized by a harsh mother-in-law, a rapist or a society half a millennium away from granting women full agency. Comer is plenty up for the role, but never jumps offscreen. Hence, she seems destined for more costarring roles like this than becoming a superstar who can carry a movie like this.
    • Adam Driver plays the bad guy, something for which he is damn near typecast, especially after playing the Darth Vader for a new generation in the final Star Wars trilogy. His Jacques Le Gris sounds like his last name is Legree, a byword for evil.
    • Ben Affleck plays a small roll as Count Pierre d’Alençon, the local Poobah and playboy. Other than the blond hair they incongruously gave Affleck (What, the guy needs help looking good?), he is a natural in the role of louche aristocrat.

    Strong Supporters

    • Harriet Walter as Nicole de Buchard
    • Alex Lawther as King Charles VI
    • Marton Csokas as Crespin
    • Željko Ivanek as Le Coq
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    All hail Ridley Scott, master of sword epics! He has crafted a long movie that never drags, notwithstanding extensive flashbacks from three main characters.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Great 4.0

    Ben Affleck & Matt Damon teamed up to write the screenplay, bringing in Nicole Holofcener for a woman’s touch on a story with two strong females at its core. Holofcener is a Woman’s Perspective specialist, as for instance with 2014’s Enough Said.

    Eric Jager wrote the book on which the movie is based.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.6

    WARNING: Savage violence suffuses The Last Duel. Many men get killed and a woman gets raped. That last is a central plot point, so is obsessively documented. Not for the faint hearted. You’ve been warned.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.9
  16. Violence Savage 4.1
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.7
  18. Glib 1.6

    The Last Duel hews close to the apparent history of what was an archaic practice in 14th century France, a duel to the death involving jousting and sword fighting, plus an ax and dagger for good measure.

    The movie’s revivification of medieval society is most fascinating: feudal relationships, centralized control, and the height of knighthood.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 2.0
  20. Biological Glib 1.7
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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