Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rinko Kikuchi
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy
Despite being taken in by the lord of a domain by the name of Aco, Kai (Reeves) a half Japanese, half English ‘half-breed’ lives very much as an outcast, gaining no respect from others. After the lord is setup and executed with his honour lost as a result, his loyal samurai are all banished with the threat of execution and Aco is taken control of by the nasty lord who orchestrated the whole setup. Oh, and he also takes a woman as his bride that is in love with Kai. These former samurai, now ronin, all reunite with Kai joining them too to take back Aco, avenge the death of their lord and restore their honour (and yes there are 47 of them).
Get used to hearing the word ‘honour’ if you are going to watch this absolute mess of a film, as being a big budget Hollywood film set in a past foreign country, we are given the usual stereotypes to form the narrative of the story. Though 47 Ronin is apparently based on a true story (it makes sure to remind us), or at least myth, it must be very loosely considering the bizarre concoction of monsters, demons and witches that turn up at various points. Oh, and the characters that feature in that poster; Well the one with the skull like face who looks like an extra from Live and Let Die turns up for a few seconds, the heavily armoured bloke has a couple of very brief scenes and only Rinko Kikuchi’s (Pacific Rim) shape-shifting witch really has anything to do with the story. The poster is not completely misleading though; Reeves looks just as bored throughout the entire film. While the expression I had throughout the film was one of bewildered bemusement as I tried to figure out what exactly I was watching. Perhaps it was for that reason I was never bored, but that is in no way a compliment to director Carl Rinsch and his detritus of a film.
Admittedly 47 Ronin is not the worst film ever made; there is always most certainly something going on (though for what reason is often less than clear) and the films climactic battle is admittedly well put together, meaning it is admittedly watchable for its bonkers two hours, and in many ways one of the unintentional comedies of the year. However despite a generous two hour running time character development is surprisingly thin with the most basic GCSE standard arcs and motivations that are well and truly over explained and rammed heavily down our throat. Every character is a cardboard cut out cliché, racist stereotype, bizarre CGI creation or an extremely bored and expressionless Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan.
Though the motivation behind our main characters is supposed to be honourable (that word again), as the painfully predictable overall plot goes on it is really hard to care about any of them. The entire film is not all predictable though; no, it is far worse than that! In between all the brooding and clunky speeches we have these bizarre creatures created by out of date CGI turning up all of a sudden, when it seems 47 Ronin cannot get any worse or bizarre, it actually does. Thankfully 47 Ronin is looking at getting hardly any of its reported $175million (!) budget back, and that is frankly what it deserves!
Completely bonkers, and not in a good way, apart from perhaps flushing it down a toilet 47 Ronin is a perfect example of the most effective way to waste an obscene amount of money. Though there is admittedly some decent action in there somewhere and some unintentional comedy, it is pretty much a great example of how NOT to make an action blockbuster.