'Last Knights' a pale 'Game of Thrones' wannabe

Armor-clad hooey from the imitation 'Game of Thrones' playbook, 'Last Knights' will test your patience

Armor-clad hooey straight from the "Game of Thrones" imitation playbook, although decidedly less cynical than HBO's wily political saga, the medieval-tinged adventure "Last Knights" will test your patience for speeches about honor, grim declarations of loyalty and pre-battle glowering.

Japanese director Kazuaki Kiriya's handsomely straightforward but humorless tale, written by Michael Konyves and Dove Sussman, concerns a tight band of warriors led by Raiden (a suitably commander-like Clive Owen), who seek revenge for the unjust treatment of their master Bartok (Morgan Freeman), a principled lord openly defying the emperor's corrupt minister (Aksel Hennie). The first hour is a wintry talkathon, while the second — set a year later and concerning plans for a climactic castle siege — plays like the dreariest feudal heist movie until the swordplay starts.

The most intriguing feature is the movie's nation-blind casting, imagining a feudal world with faces and accents from South Korea, Norway, Japan and Iran. (Although the dialogue doesn't always help a few of the English-as-second-language performances.) But even with this admirably international approach to fantasy roles, it's noteworthy that none of the warriors or leaders — the ones who drive the story — are played by women, meaning a great actress such as Shohreh Aghdashloo is relegated to a few pained expressions as Freeman's worried wife. "Last Knights," as generic as it is, is nevertheless a Boys Club.


"Last Knights"

MPAA rating: R for some violence.

Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.

Playing: At Sundance Sunset, West Hollywood.

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