The Last Duel (2021)
As the baddie on Scooby-Doo always said - "bloody millennials, it's their fault." - or something like that. Anyway, those meddling, pesky kids have been at it again, making Ridley Scott look bad, apparently. He would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for them. Bah.
If you could just bloody well put your phone down for a minute, then perhaps you might learn something. You might learn that despite a huge budget and A-list talent, an envious wealth of film-making experience and more mud and straw than your mother, who was a hamster btw, has ever seen, you can still make a film that nobody can really be arsed to sit through. Why? Short attention spans. Obvs.
It's okay, I'm just feeling a little devious, but I just can't help myself. It comes to something when the good knight Sir Ridley has to make lame, frankly nonsensical, excuses for his box office failure. Make of this what you will, however, it is not for us to give two hoots. Never mind the length, feel the quality.
Two and a half hours of solid French posturing is not to be taken lightly and this tale is old as the hills. Many a war was waged over things far more stupid than love, yet this does not still give it warrant, I'll wager.
Two good friends for many years fall out over one of them porking the other one's wife. Now, if it was just this, then okay, there might be a bit of a fallout, years of recrimination, bad-mouthing, even the odd punch may be thrown. But this is about honour, something that had a good deal more clout in the 14th century than it does apparently have today.
I'm not sure exactly how many gauntlets would be thrown today if it meant that getting your own back on your wife's lover might cost you your life, or worse. Perhaps ambivalence to such an act is more noble, we can tell ourselves in these modern times. Just as well, perhaps.
The same story, told three times from different perspectives does cast some telling light on actual events which you are still allowed to decide the outcome of yourself. Fruitless, really, as the result would still be the same, no matter who you side with. There is something to suggest all three stories contain evidence of fault in the others in this triangle of the overlong and ultimately pointless.
Nothing wrong with the acting here. Matt Damon, overlooked and paranoid can't really be surprised by the actions of his friend Adam Driver, who is more successful, well-read, worldly and attractive than him. Who could blame him if he were to have designs on his frankly flirtatious, come-hither-to wife, the lovely Jodie Comer. Reading messages wrongly then? Maybe, maybe not.
Despite the shortcomings, all of the talent really do their bit, but this is never as engaging as the running time expects you to find it. Kudos to Scott for trying to take an important current topic and place it in an era where the story is less complicated. Whether you believe anyone and disbelieve the others may say more about you than you think and I will keep my counsel here, as I have my reasons for my conclusions, but would rather not force those reasons on others. Spoilers, duh.
Regardless of what the box-office says, this is far from a bad film. It's very good in fact, but history is littered with great films that didn't shine upon release and the same will probably true of this. There are many factors. Too long, wrong time, curious casting (I'm looking at you Ben Affleck) and released in a pandemic at a time where competition was as great as it ever was, sans lockdown. All of these things will put some people off. Some people will be affected by more than one. Nonetheless, when you're sitting down to watch this on Sky, probably next Christmas (or something, I don't know, I don't do scheduling) you may ask yourself just how you missed it at the time.
Don't beat yourself up over it. Advice Sir Ridley might want to consider, if he could just take a moment from all of his social media accounts to stop and think about it.