Written by Rosie Taylor.
47 Ronin follows the half-breed Kai (Keanu Reeves), Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), and a motley crew of outcast samurai in a perilous quest to avenge their Master’s death and pluck the ancient Japanese city from a demon’s grasp. The film is followed by a ‘based on true events’ disclaimer, which now has me believing in demonic fox-women and beasts straight from Where the Wild Things Are.
Kai’s typical pursuit of forbidden love in its purest PG-rated form sees him slaying mythical creatures, proving his aptitude to the demons who raised him and even battling an anamorphic dragon to win over his damsel in distress. Dotted with stunning visual effects, the film is a heroic account of revenge and righteousness.
It seems director Carl Rinsch jotted down the recipe for an award-winning fantasy thriller forgetting a few vital ingredients, a strong plotline and a stellar cast.
The story lacks spine and creativity, while the majority of the cast clings helplessly to Reeves’ shoulders as he provides occasional bouts of theatrical brilliance. Antagonist demon Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi) astounds with surprisingly believable acting in her limited screen time, leaving remnants of satisfaction each time she leaves the screen.
Costume designer Penny Rose deserves notable mention for balancing the mediocre acting with stunning aesthetic appeal. Her modernization of traditional Japanese apparel in vivid reds, blues and gold, juxtaposed with the intricate set design, serves to transport audiences to another time and place where acting alone has failed.
It’s Dungeons and Dragons meets The Matrix with splashes of The Last Samurai, although lacking the esteem. Expect swordfights, slain kings and romance in all the wrong moments.
47 Ronin is watchable, with some redeeming attributes and a refreshing conclusion that diverts from westernized films, but wait for a download and save it for a rainy day when you’ve finished all those Friends reruns.
THE REEL SCORE: 5/10