THE LAST SAMURAI (2003)
Good popcorn movie. Nothing more.
With the notable exception of the Matrix trilogy, I like to think of the early ’00s as the transition period between the over-dramatised and thoroughly unrealistic action scenes of the ’90s and the marginally more intelligent (and more expensive CGI) of the later ’00s.
Edward Zwick’s Last Samurai is no exception. If you can get over the highly implausible storyline – which, it must be added, twists history to suit its rather implausible premise – and Tom Cruise’s unremarkable acting, then it makes for a half-decent way to pass two hours and approximately thirty minutes of your life.
What I liked best
Tom Cruise is a good actor. Don’t get me wrong. But I think he over-did the part of a jaded American cavalry officer who has seen too much of the Indian wars. As with everything else, he is at his most brilliant when he is emotional – i.e shouting, crying, anything that requires extremes. Which isn’t too hard to pull off, but still.
What I did not like
Samurai were supposed to be bad-ass. They took no prisoners, and if they did, it was as a courtesy – their prisoner (presumably someone high-ranking, obviously) was expected to commit ritual suicide out of the shame and humiliation at his defeat.
Foreigner or no, I’m sure the same rule applied equally to all prisoners. Capturing Tom Cruise and raising him like you would a Tamagotchi is quite possibly the the last thing you would expect from a bunch of samurai who hold themselves to the ancient traditions.
What I felt sad about
The whole production was over-done and simplified for the sake of American audiences. It lacked nuance and deeper subplots that could have made the story a lot more interesting – though you have to admit, it fell apart after he decided to spare Tom Cruise’s life.