Let’s just start this one by getting the obvious out of the way. The Last Witch Hunter was released a little over five years ago, underwhelming critics before being promptly forgotten. It’s not a recent movie, and it’s far from a masterpiece. But Vin Diesel has stated publicly that Lionsgate are going ahead with the planned sequel, so it seems unlikely that we’ve seen the back of The Last Witch Hunter yet.
The Last Witch Hunter opens with almost the exact introduction you’d imagine: a band of warriors hunting witches in the Dark Ages in order to rid the world of the Black Plague. One warrior (hint: it’s Vin Diesel with a really awful wig and fake beard) rises above the rest, and manages to get the better of the Witch Queen, but not before she brands him with the most basic of evil curses: eternal life.
Jumping ahead, we learn that Kaulder (Diesel) has now been hunting evil witches for 800 years, and over that time he’s ditched the bad hair and learned to be as quietly cool as Vin Diesel himself.
Kaulder’s friend and handler is killed, and it’s up to the Last Witch Hunter to uncover a secret plot to bring the Witch Queen back to life so that she can kill all humans with another plague.
It’s as if the studio set out to make one of the most cookie-cutter fantasy/action stories you’ve ever heard; complete with smatterings of the cheesiest dialogue imaginable and an end result that incorporates every clichéd trope imaginable – including an out-of-nowhere third act plot twist that was both well done and completely unnecessary.
While the story is a little flimsy and possessing of more than a few glaring holes, The Last Witch Hunter isn’t a total waste of time.
Vin Diesel is, well, Vin Diesel – emanating the same hyper-masculine charisma that he’s made his living from, but there’s solid performances from both Elijah Wood and Rose Leslie in supporting roles.
While the movie’s writing might leave much to be desired, its presentation – surprisingly – doesn’t. The Last Witch Hunter went all out to impress, and visually speaking, it’s a delight. Despite the movie’s heavy VFX, it never felt inorganic, with exactly as much polish as you’d expect from the MCU, which is certainly something to go in TLWH’s favour.
If you go into this one expecting to find your new favourite action fantasy franchise, then you’re likely to be disappointed. But The Last Witch Hunter is able to build a reasonably interesting world, a handful of likeable characters, and entertain throughout, so it’s not a total write off.
Summary: On the surface, it might reek of Hollywood fluff, but at its core, there’s a loving crafted and well presented story. Lazily conceived though it may be, The Last Witch Hunter is able to glitter over most of its problems.