The Last Samurai
- Edward Zwick
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is sent to Japan as a military advisor by Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwin). There he is captured by Samurais, led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), who are believed to be enemies. His whole perception of life changes while staying with them, and now he must face the Japanese government and its bloody ways.
The Last Samurai may have battles and fights to spare, but ultimately what I liked the most is the fact that it is a story about one man’s journey to find peace after a traumatic past. He may not be physically wounded at first, but his soul is certainly in need of some breath. The way the Samurai culture affects him is heartbreaking, and it is also intriguing for the audience as we get to learn more about them and their fascinating approach to life.
The movie also has a wonderfully subtle romantic subplot between Capt. Algren and Taka (Koyuki) that worked wonders for me. It isn’t just a plot device, but instead feels real and honest. Forget about cheesiness, this is carefully treated.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the ending of the movie, which goes way over-the-top in that last final confrontation with the Emperor. Too bad it wasn’t handled more low-key, but hey, the rest of the movie is excellent, so it’s not a big deal.
As for the battle scenes, they’re quite impressive and in-your-face. The movie is very well shot and John Toll’s cinematography is beautiful. Hans Zimmer also adds his touch with a great score.
Tom Cruise is a star who can act. Here he uses both his attributes to full effect and delivers a credible, brave performance. We never think of him as Tom Cruise, but as this deeply affected man in need of redemption. Meanwhile, Ken Watanabe steals all of his scenes with a fantastic performance that screams dignity, wisdom, knowledge and love. Amazing work.
“For $500 a month I'll kill whoever you want. But keep one thing in mind, I’d gladly kill you for free.”
CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter