Cinema Dispatch: The Last Duel

The Last Duel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Ridley Scott

It’s officially catch-up month over her as I scramble to fit a few more reviews in before the New Year and try to catch up on some of the things I missed, so hey; why not two Ridley Scott movies back to back?  While House of Gucci had a modest amount of box office success despite some rather underwhelming reviews, the same cannot be said for this film which came and went with barely a notice from general audiences.  Did we all miss out on a fantastic gem that deserved a lot more attention at the box office, or is this just a really bad year for the venerable director?  Let’s find out!!

The story takes place in Medieval France and follows three people whose fates are inexorably and cruelly intertwined.  Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) is a simple if narrow-minded warrior in the French army who takes a wife, The Lady Marguerite (Jodie Comer), and while there are some advantages to the marriage in terms of property and a bit of esteem in the court, he’s still very much outclassed by his friend, the Squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver).  He doesn’t come from a family of warriors or is in an advantageous marriage, but still, he pulled himself up through cunning and political maneuvering to become a chief adviser to the nearby lord, Count Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck).  The tensions between Jean and Jacques escalate as Jacques curries more favor with the community while Jean is just kinda being sad in his castle with his wife and mother, and it all comes to a head when Jean returns from the capital to find his wife in an utterly distraught state.  She says that while he was gone, Jacques broke in and raped her which Jacques denies vociferously.  Being a man of honor (and one that doesn’t listen to his wife), Jean challenges Jacques to a duel to the death, with the caveat being that if Jean falls in battle then Marguerite will be burned at the stake.  With so much riding on something as arbitrary as a fight with swords, can justice truly be meted out for Marguerite?  Is there more to this story than any of the three participants are willing to share and is there more to the duel than meets the eye?  First Joan of Arc, and now this?  Seriously, Middle Ages!  Get your act together!

“If this duck quacks an even number of times, you are innocent.  An odd number however and you will be condemned as a witch!”     “Is there an appeals process?”     “That involves two cows a budgerigar, and a length of twine.”
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Cinema Dispatch: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Patrick Hughes

Okay, so MAYBE Atomic Blonde didn’t turn out to be everything I was hoping for, but that’s not the ONLY move I was looking forward to this year!  Who DOESN’T want to see two of the best action/comedy actors of the modern age bounce off of each other in an over the top buddy shoot’em up!?  That’s at least what we were promised in the trailers, but if there’s one thing that Atomic Blonde (and admittedly lots of other movies) has taught me, it’s that trailers aren’t always the best at telling you what a movie will ACTUALLY be about.  I know; SHOCKING revelation there!  Does the team up between these two titans of Hollywood blockbusters manage to work even better together than they do as individuals, or was this a team up worse than when Pouty Superman fought with Even Poutier Batman for no reason whatsoever?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is a TOP NOTCH bodyguard with his own security company that’s apparently richer than half their clients considering how styling him and his crew are, but his idyllic life of protecting the rich and powerful is abruptly brought to an end when someone he’s supposed to be protecting gets shot right the head by an unknown sniper.  He spends the next few years stewing in his own self-loathing and is stuck protecting losers and drug addicted lawyers as he tries to climb his way back to the top.  An opportunity presents itself though when super hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) is to be brought before an international court to testify against the Belarusian Dictator (Gary Oldman) who everyone seems to know committed NUMEROUS war crimes, but only Kincaid has the evidence… for some reason.  Michael is given a chance to possibly redeem himself if he can get Darius to The Netherlands in one piece as the Belarusian Dictator is sending out a lot of hired goons to put him in a body bag before he can testify.  That’s not the REAL problem though.  No, what’s REALLY gonna make this the mission from hell is that Darius is a TOTAL asshole who likes to do things dirty which clashes with Michael’s preference of being clean and professional about everything he does.  It’s like The Odd Couple, but with guns and a lot more swearing!  I don’t recall Walter Matthau calling people mother fucker before shooting them in the head!  Can these two get along JUST long enough for Darius to testify and put that dictator behind bars once and for all?  Will Michael finally redeem himself and get his life back on track after delivering Darius to the international authorities, or will he end up shooting him in the head out of sheer frustration before that?  Seriously, does Samuel L Jackson own the rights to the words mother fucker?  He HAS to be getting royalties considering how much he says that!

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“I see you driving round time with the girl I love, and I’m like… MOTHER FUCKER!!”

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