The Last Witch Hunter is a supernatural action movie starring Vin Diesel as an immortal witch hunter, who must stop the evil Witch Queen from unleashing a plague upon humanity. That single sentence alone should be enough to get you pumped up for the movie. Unfortunately, the movie itself doesn’t live up to its own concept.
The first glaring problem with The Last Witch Hunter is the villain. Every good action movie needs a strong, nasty villain, one that can convincingly be a threat to the hero. The Witch Queen, while undeniably evil, becomes an unconvincing threat once Kaulder, played by Vin Diesel, defeats her within the first few minutes of the movie. Later on, while characters may be afraid of what will happen if the Witch Queen is resurrected, the audience is not, as we’ve already seen Kaulder defeat her once. With hundreds of years more experience under his belt, Kaulder should be able to handily defeat her.
Additionally, much of The Last Witch Hunter feels derivative. Names like Kaulder and the Witch Queen sound like they were ripped out of a Tolkien novel. Much of the movie is reminiscent of last year’s supernatural action flick, I, Frankenstein, which also featured an immortal hero fighting supernatural foes with the help of a secretive organization. If The Last Witch Hunter continues to follow in I, Frankenstein’s footsteps, it will be a box office disappointment and fail to become a sequel. Both seem likely.
The plot is both simple and needlessly complicated. The basic plot is to stop the Witch Queen from returning and destroying humanity. In order to get to that point though, the story veers too much into mystery. While mystery and suspense can be welcoming in any genre, no one is going to see The Last Witch Hunter for Vin Diesel playing a detective. The viewer wants to see him punching, shooting, or stabbing witches, not playing CSI with dirt samples in order to track down said witches.
Not only does the film fall short on witch-hunting action, it falls short of a reason for the movie to be called The Last Witch Hunter. The only other witch hunters in the movie are in the opening, which takes place hundreds of years in the past. There’s no reason given why Kaulder is the last witch hunter, as not all of his fellow hunters die in the fight. Presumably, they lived long lives and could have trained other witch hunters, or Kaulder, who is immortal, could have trained other witch hunters. It’s not like there was a super-squad of witch hunters who died off, leaving him as the last one. He’s the only one—backed up by an organization—but still! It’s a cool sounding title, but it doesn’t make real sense with the movie.
Despite the problems with the plot, the cast is solid, with Vin Diesel being a great choice for the immortal witch hunter. He brings charm and some levity to a role which could easily be weighed down with angst—it’s refreshing to have an immortal who doesn’t complain about it. Also, Vin Diesel’s fight scenes are intense, when they get around to them, and he handles a sword well. More action would have made this movie a lot more fun and would have distracted from the weaker points of its story.
Michael Caine, despite being prominent in the trailers, is hardly in the movie, playing the 36th Dolan—like Alfred from Batman—but as a member of a religious order. Elijah Wood fares slightly better in his role as the 37th Dolan, though he does vanish as though the filmmakers have forgotten him for periods of time throughout the movie. Rose Leslie as Chloe, a witch reluctantly assisting Kaulder, ends up as the best of the supporting cast, clashing with and complementing Kaulder nicely.
Another area which the movie deserves credit is the effects. For the most part, they do look cool, especially when they involve storms or fire. When Kaulder lights his sword on fire to fight the Witch Queen, it’s awesome and really gets you excited for the fight.
While The Last Witch Hunter delivers fiery special effects and a great cast, the subpar plot and villain make it feel like a direct to DVD movie. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s certainly not a great one. The only reason to see this in theaters is if you’re a diehard Vin Diesel fan. If you’re not, wait to rent it or hope it ends up on Netflix. Spending ten bucks a ticket is more than this movie deserves.