The Last Witch Hunter – Movie Review
The Last Witch Hunter – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 23 Oct 2015
The Last Witch Hunter is a fantasy/adventure starring Vin Diesel as Kaulder, a witch hunter cursed with immortality hundreds of years in the past. When his friend and aid Dolan 36 (Michael Caine) is attacked, Kaulder sets out to find and stop those responsible. He is joined by Dolan 37 (Elijah Wood) and a young woman named Chloe (Rose Leslie.)
An intriguing but overall frustrating movie, The Last Witch Hunter does a good job of wrapping itself around Vin Diesel’s strengths. This keeps his character from being outside his range, but comes at the cost of him never surviving the name test – you only see Vin Diesel, never Kaulder the witch hunter. The immortality curse is barely touched on but is essentially the same as The Highlander, where the main character cannot form many friendships and remain secret. He must also watch the people he cares about grow old and die. In Diesel’s hands, this is used as more of a winking joke where he keeps calling Michael Caine’s character “kid.” This is more to remind us that Kaulder is more than 700 years older than Dolan 36 rather than to show any kind of emotional turmoil Kaulder feels at being cursed to watch everyone around him die.
The direction and action sequences are mostly good, but go out with a whimper in a final battle scene that involves Vin Diesel standing still for a long period of time, looking bored and tired, and then throwing a sword. It’s hilariously inept. Kaulder also drives a sports car because Vin Diesel plays him. Much of the world-building is simply in service to furthering the plot. The city of New York feels abandoned most of the time and the movie ends just a hair shy of an actual cliffhanger but definitely wants you to want a sequel – if only to explain more about what is going on.
Rose Leslie stands out, but Elijah Wood and Michael Caine are also fine with the very little they have to do. Again, this all feels like it’s in service to making sure Vin Diesel always looks cool and everyone around him is also helping play to his strengths. Diesel has charisma, but when that fails to be enough to hold up the entire story it all begins to look silly.
The Last Witch Hunter was much, much better than I had expected. (I was bracing myself for another Dracula Untold.) If you’re a big fan of Diesel, you’ll probably enjoy this as “Vin Diesel’s The Highlander.” There’s also enough here to make you laugh – both in the actual comedy in the script and the moments here and there that are just plain silly. (The sword throwing scene is unintentionally incredibly funny.)
Aaron, Cal, Matthew and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car: