The Last Duel

The Last Duel ★★★½

Jodie Comer plays a modern woman trapped in a medieval dystopia. This is another poor history lesson from Ridley Scott — beautifully produced, but capturing little of the true alienness of the past. The exception is Matt Damon, who commits to a surprisingly complex, literally multifaceted portrait of a brutish, proud squire, as well as to an outrageous haircut (which works much better in the context of the film than it did on the poster, where it likely cost the movie tens of millions of dollars).

For movie set in the past, it works hard to never let you forget it’s really about the present. It’s a worthwhile message, but it's hard to believe that anyone who needs to hear it will watch the movie and have a sudden change of heart. That said, the film is well-made and well-acted (Comer is sidelined until the end but does a good job with what she’s been given. Has Driver ever given a bad performance?). Lovely though it looks, must it flurry in every single Ridley Scott historical drama?

The 153 minute runtime feels shorter than it actually is, and the titular duel is thrilling spectacle even if the ending is a forgone conclusion. Oh, and (*SPOILER*) you get to watch Matt Damon attack an erect horse with a shovel.

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