The Last Samurai – Review March 31, 2009Posted by Cello in Domestic Film Reviews.
Yeah, so, The Last Samurai is basically a domestic film but if there was ever a more American film that was influenced by asain cultures…it is this. So, it qualifies a spot on my blog, and most importantly, I enjoyed it. Additionally, I think ‘The Last Samurai’ could well be to Japan what Braveheart was to Scotland. The Last Samurai is an epic portrayal of the intimate story of cultures at a crossroads as imperial Japan undergoes a tumultuous transition to a more Westernised society. Possessed of a certain nobility, combined with an eagerness to please, The Last Samurai proves it’s possible to take the film out of Hollywood, but not always take Hollywood out of the film.
The film is about two men from very different backgrounds who become united by honour and respect. Both are warriors who fight their demons as much as their enemies and who desire to understand and learn from each other in the hope of finding peace. Tom Cruise plays Nathan Algren, a highly decorated American civil war veteran who drinks to dull the horrific memories that haunt him. Reduced to promoting Winchester rifles, Algren is approached by Omura (Masato Harada) on behalf of the Japanese emperor who is enamoured of all things western and willing to pay him handsomely for training his troops to quell a Samurai rebellion. Overall, The Last Samurai is a flawed story of redemption and cultural adaptation but a great action film.
Just like movies like, The Matrix Reloaded, this is an action film that shows a war between tradition and sees evolution as puppet of greed. Obviously, The Last Samurai isn’t a very innovative work. However, the homage is served through gorgeous cinematography, attention to historical details and the implication of its actors.
The views of the Japanese countryside, and the lifestyle and culture of the Samurai were truly amazing to experience. The majority of the movie was very engrossing for me but I did have a general problems with the Last Samurai. Particularly some dodgy characterisations and an ending which could have had far more impact. Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe are very excellent in their roles and carry this movie solely on their backs. Watanabe brilliantly captures the difficult situation that Katsumoto faces as he must choose between loyalty to his Emperor and loyalty to the traditions that he cares deeply about. What about Tom Cruise you ask? Well, in my opinion, for all his conviction and ability, is the ultimate symbol of contemporary Hollywood. A very moving piece of Cinema. Recommended.