A review by Nalini Haynes
800 years ago, Kaulder (Vin Diesel) was a witchhunter with a bunch of other dudes dressed in armor. They tracked a witch to an enormous, twisted tree where she killed all of them except Kaulder, whom she made immortal so he could spend the rest of his unnatural life killing witches.
In the present day, Kaulder works with a bunch of priests. He doesn’t kill witches anymore. There are rules about witches’ behavior and, if they stick to the rules, they get to live free and happy. If they break the rules, a familiar-looking creature made of branches and skulls instead of reptilian plate (think Pitch Black) emerges from the dark to take them underground for eternal imprisonment and torment. Kinda like one of Dante’s hells.
Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine) retires because he’s grown old in Kaulder’s service although Kaulder still calls him ‘kid’. Kaulder doesn’t want him to retire: Michael Caine — oops, Dolan 36 — is the only Dolan he’s ever liked. And Dolans don’t retire, they die. Except this Dolan wants a life after service.
Dolan hands over to his successor, the sneaky hobbitses Dolan 37 (Elijah Wood). 37 leaves while a mysterious stranger watches on the street then 36 is murdered.
Kaulder is unhappy.
The Last Witchhunter is a fan service movie. If you love Vin Diesel’s drawl and hooded eyes, you’ll need a towel. At one stage he asks someone for one word that describes him; I hold my breath waiting for ‘sexy’ but, after a pause, she replies ‘alone’. He takes off his jacket so pointedly so many times that I’m expecting the shirt to come off next but we don’t get to see biceps let alone pecs or abs.
Kaulder’s dialogue relies on Vin Diesel’s delivery more than wit; The Last Witchhunter needs fast-paced action and snappy dialogue to be a really fun movie. However, there are numerous references, both verbal and visual, to other science fiction and fantasy movies.
There are monsters.
Kaulder rides a monster just like in Pitch Black. Or was it the sequel/remake Riddick? Or both?
The Last Witchhunter is a fantasy movie set today with a prologue 800 years ago that is essential to the story because Kaulder must remember something he forgot. Something vital. At the end of the movie I felt they’d cheated with the plot but, really, it’s Vin Diesel. He stars and produced this movie; he knows his strengths and his fan base, which obviously doesn’t require passing the Bechdel Test.
The movie felt like a pilot for a TV series that I’d watch, especially if it kept this cast. Think Constantine or Arrow.
Overall, an enjoyable movie but not one I’m in a hurry to see again.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Director: Breck Eisner
Writers: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine