Starring: Vin Diesel, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood
Genre: Action/ Fantasy
After slaying the evil Queen Witch, Kaulder (Diesel) was cursed by her very last words to be immortal and never be able to see his beloved wife and child in the afterlife, and for the last 800 years has made it his sole purpose to hunt down the witches that live among us. However, when the Queen Witch is resurrected she seeks revenge on Kaulder and destruction of human kind, Kaulder and his hideous one-liners become human kind’s only hope.
As the credits started rolling for Vin Deisel’s latest leading man cinematic car crash I was not surprised that he is also credited as a producer. Who knows how much of the reported $75million dollar budget of The Last Witch Hunter came directly from Mark Sinclair’s own pocket (that is his real name by the way), but as much as there is nothing wrong with actors having passion projects, this is one actor that should just keep them to himself and never share them.
Admittedly, it is hard to enter The Last Witch Hunter with an open mind thanks not only to the fact it has Vin Diesel as the leading man, but also its abysmal title. Predictably the script keeps to this low standard with a narrative that often makes no sense, really overdoes it on the exposition (when there actually is some) with a tendency for characters to describe what we can clearly see and has very cringe-worthy (supposedly) comic one-liners that only ever produce laughs at and never with the film.
Surely Vin Diesel earns enough from the Fast & Furious films that come out every couple of years to not feel the need to subject audiences to anything else. He is part of an ensemble cast in those films (which are always an extreme guilty pleasure), but when he tries to be the out and out leading man that appears in every scene and actually apparently has some kind of character journey (which in this case is basically a shameless rip-off of Gladiator) he just keeps on embarrassing himself, and it really isn’t pleasant viewing as he seems like a really likeable person. Vin Diesel’s deluded stoicism throughout The Last Witch Hunter does admittedly allow it to enter into the ‘so bad it is good’ category, but this is its only saving grace and the only reason to watch it is to actually be confronted by just how bad it is and see just how easy it is to waste $75million.
What is surprising/ disappointing is that somehow Michael Caine was persuaded to be in this film as at his age he really should know better. Despite the abysmal dialogue and extremely clichéd nature of his character, his performance does actually threaten to bring some heart and soul to the film, but this is soon thwarted by, well everything else.
Action films do indeed often have silly stories with plenty of flaws and plot holes that really defy logic, but they need to be fun and if they are great fun with memorable and enduring characters then the flaws can be forgiven and easily glossed over. Vin Diesel’s own Fast & Furious franchise is a classic example of this, but with its shoddy plotting that often makes no sense, the dialogue and Vin Diesel’s delivery seemingly competing to be more cringe worthy than the other, The Last Witch Hunter is just downright embarrassing and yet another blot on the copybook for him.
The abysmal title predictably sets the standard for what truly is an embarrassing cinematic car crash: The Last Witch Hunter is indeed very much as bad as it sounds.