King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
While his last few films haven’t been my favorite The Last Duel inches its way towards that category. There’s just something about a Ridley Scott film that stands out on its own, especially if it’s a period piece. One of his last achievements Gladiator is a great example of that. He’s always able to create an environment that makes you feel as if you’re there, or that you just witnessed a true testament of what was from the past. There’s no difference here in this star-studded dramatic tale of honor, loyalty, and respect lead by some of Hollywood’s leads.
Matt Damon and Scott have worked together previously during the shoot of The Martian, so this is another go-around for the two. There’s great chemistry between them, and you can always see it displayed onscreen. Damon’s character Sir Jean de Carrouges is a conflicted man that you want to root for, despite all of his shortcomings. He’s difficult to characterize with one side of him being honorable, but on the other end him being misogynistic. This dichotomy brings forth intrigue throughout the film as you continue to see him develop over the years. The same goes for Adam Driver’s character Jacques Le Gris. He’s a despicable man, but that’s not the point. Both characters are compelling, and the film suffered when they weren’t front and center, which shows how great their portrayal was.
And when telling a story between two parties there’s always three sides. Side A, Side B, and the truth. That’s how the story is laid out here over three different perspectives all with similar details, and while others are at the same time drastically different as well. This was a perfect way to engage the audience until the end when the truth is revealed. It’s an entertaining guessing game, while also being a dramatic toll on your soul. The injustices that happen to women during this time are appalling. Light shines on the issue with the role of Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer). She succeeded in portraying a woman going through hell, but still stayed standing on her two feet for justice. That’s nothing short of admirable especially with the way it was depicted.
Now, not only does Scott know how to capture great drama, he’s a master craftsman when it comes to choreographing an intense battle on the big screen. Within the action here you can see and hear every kick, punch, stab, break, gasp, all drenched in blood blasting out over the surround sound. The sound mixing and design were superb as expected, and the action battles are nothing short of phenomenal.
As this film takes place in the 14th-century common sense would tell you how different confrontations were handled during that time. This film is a great story of showing how much society has evolved and at times how it still has remained the same or gotten worse. Without even trying Scott was able to show a cycle of society that if not checked, could possibly once again be an establishment’s greatest downfall. On another note, seeing two men work out their differences over a duel is a fascinating thing to see. Not being an advocate of violence, but there’s a level of respect that is had for such issues to be addressed by a duel. The big question is the context of how the two men ended up in this predicament, and seeing it played out over multiple points of views during a two-hour and thirty-minute runtime was an overall enjoyable experience.