The Last Samurai (2003)

Last Samurai, The (2003, USA/JAP/NZL) C-154m. SCOPE *** D: Edward Zwick. Starring Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, William Atherton, Tony Goldwyn, Masato Harada, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall, Koyuki. Embittered civil war veteran Cruise is hired by the Japanese emperor to train his inept soldiers for war against outlaw band of samurais led by Watanabe. Cruise is sent to war too soon, his army is destroyed and he is captured. As a prisoner, he learns to respect the traditions and the way of the samurai. Characterization and plotting are much too smooth and clichéd, but film is very well-made and has more than its share of beautiful, exciting, even touching moments, kudos to director Zwick. Cruise and his co-star are good. Entertaining, despite length, from the LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992) school of filmmaking. Excellent score by Hans Zimmer, fine photography by John Toll.


© Ron Altman