After realizing that the Fast & Furious movies are the best superhero films around, I’ve developed a new appreciation for Vin Diesel. He’s not the best actor in the world, but he’s pretty damn good at doing his thing (knowing looks, confidence, being huge, driving cars, saying “I am Groot,” etc). With that in mind — as well as a few How Did This Get Made? episodes focusing on his films — I decided to give The Last Witch Hunter a watch. I remember hearing exactly nothing about this one when it came out and you know what? I kinda liked it a lot.
This Breck Eisner film kicks off with a bearded Diesel walking through a tundra-like area with a crazy-huge tree growing out of the middle of it. It’s apparently a witch thing and they’re witch hunters, so they’re not into that. After entering an all out battle ensues with super gross creatures hopping out of the branches and attacking them. As you should expect, Diesel’s the best and kicks all kinds of ass. He even lights his sword on fire to fight the Witch Queen. As he kills her, she curses him to live forever.
Cut to the present and Diesel — his character’s name is Kaulder — is on an airplane and uses a staple in water to track down Bex Taylor-Klaus (who’s awesome on both Arrow and Scream). She’s a witch, but he doesn’t kill her or anything, just destabilizes the runes she’s carrying so the plane doesn’t crash in storm they’re causing.
From there we learn the mythology of his world. Kaulder’s been kicking around this whole time, but now works for a group called the Axe and Cross which helps keep the balance between witches and humans. After Kaulder goes on his awesome adventures, he tells the tale to the current Dolan, a title given to the person who aids him. The first one we meet is Michael Caine who’s apparent death not only sets off the series of events seen in the film but also brings in Elijah Wood as the next one. I think I missed the specific definition of a witch in this world, but it seems to be a power you’re born with, which makes you immediately different from humans, X-Men style.
So, Kaulder’s pissed that Michael Caine’s dead and goes down this weaving winding chain of mystical craziness to find out who’s really behind the death. Like a John Constantine he knows everyone and every way to do things awesomely and relishes the opportunity to do so. Luckily, Wood’s around for him to explain things to. He gets pushed to the side in favor of Rose Leslie’s Chloe, a witch who owned a bar that Kaulder’s enemies destroyed. She also has super special and rare powers that, wait for it, Kaulder needs to figure out what’s going on.
But, I mean, we all know what’s going on, right? Forces are at work to bring back the Witch Queen. Those totally succeed, but only for a little while and partially because someone Kaulder thought he could try was secretly working against him. Everything comes to a head at the end with another awesome fight scene with even more flaming sword stuff and a new status quo is set for a sequel that probably won’t happen.
Here’s the thing. The Last Witch Hunter is not a mind blowing movie. The plot has been done before and will be done again. It fits in pretty much every genre and is just too damn solid not to keep using. However, it’s dressed up in a fairly solid mythology and special effects that looked great on my TV (no idea how it was on the big screen). So, if you’re on board for those first few things then it really comes down to how you feel about Diesel. If you dig him, go see it (if you haven’t already). If not, you might want to steer clear unless you also happen to be big Caine or Wood fans because they’re great in this thing!