To suggest a film should revel greater in absurdity and deviate away from sincerity, is not instantly cheapening the product, and in some cases, could be a key factor in improving them. That is certainly the case in Breck Eisner’s The Last Witch Hunter, which, without compromising its integrity, could vie to be more playful and inane, to enhance the audience’s enjoyment, being a film that can be accused of taking itself too seriously in parts. Sometimes absurd is better – Fast & Furious can attest to that.
Though the franchises do share one common ground, which is that they’re both headed up by the enigmatic action hero Vin Diesel, who takes on the role of Kaulder. Having defeated the Queen Witch eight centuries previous – thus consigned to immortality, our story takes place in the present day, where witches live among us, while we remain blissfully unaware. It’s Kaulder’s job to ensure the supernatural beings can live in harmony with us humans, as he protects mankind from the black death, hunting down rogue witches. One of which is Chloe (Rose Leslie) but she’s on his side and willing to help, as it seems the Queen Witch may have resurrected and is seeking revenge. All the while Kaulder suffers from grief, longing after his departed loved ones across the years, while coming to terms with the change in his personal assistant, as the recently deceased Dolan 36th (Sir Michael Caine) is to be replaced by Dolan 37th (Elijah Wood).
There is something appealing about the premise to this title, as the notion of supernaturalism occurring right beneath our noses so often makes for triumphant cinematic stomping ground, being the foundations for which the Harry Potter franchise is built upon, and where the likes of Toy Story come into their element. This lacks suspense however, given our hero’s immortality, detracting from any sense of danger where he is concerned, as we always remain confident he’ll remain unscathed. There’s also a rather underwritten romantic narrative between Kaulder and Chloe which feels so unnecessary in its inclusion.
Alas, there is more chemistry that derives between Vin Diesel and Caine, though in this instance, neither performance is really allowed the chance to flex their acting muscles, while both take on roles we’ve seen them play before (recently) and are likely to see them play again (soon).