The Last Witch Hunter might be the worst video game adaptation not actually based on a video game. That’s essentially what the Vin Diesel witch hunting vehicle is; a whole bunch of video game and action fantasy clichés rounded up into one incoherent exercise in frustration.
Kaulder (Vin Diesel) has been battling witches his entire life; all 800+ years of it. Our society and the world as a whole has him to thank for the fact that they have not been running rampant, causing all sorts of dark mayhem. His first battle was against the formidable Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) who has returned in modern day to seek vengeance. Kaulder works for a secret society and over the centuries has been accompanied by a priest – here referred to as Dolans – to help aid him in his journeys. The current appointee #36 (Michael Caine) is set to retire and has brought in a younger Dolan #37 (Elijah Wood) to train up under him. Throw in a good Witch (not sure if she is from the east or west) named Chloe (Rose Leslie) and you have quite the motley crew. It will take all their efforts of course to keep the Witch Queen at bay.
This film starts off with lots of promise. The characters are strong and look fantastic. Much attention to detail is given to the surroundings, wardrobe, and special effects. You immediately are drawn in to the action and supernatural story line. The Witch Queen is menacing while at the same time sort of alluring and oddly sexy. If the entire film had been set during a postmodern time it might have fared better. It is when we get to the current period that things immediately fall apart.
The action is also entirely forgettable and basic; it’s just Vin running around with your basic shotguns and swords, diving through creatures in slow-motion blowing them apart. There is also a completely unintentionally hilarious moment where he charges at the Witch Queen with his silver sword, spinning it around with his hands for a good five seconds before actually swinging. Most surprising and disappointing though, the movie has very little action at all. It’s more of an investigation into a mysterious death while Vin races against time to locate what he needs that resides deep within his memory.
Dolan #37 is especially keen to come along side of Kaulder. Sadly his character is poorly written and sprinkled with dialogue that is witless and uninteresting. Even the endearing Wood is unable to breathe any sort of life or interest into him. All attempts at humor, drama, or anything in between fall flat. The story line is decent enough and you find yourself longing for a battle so that everyone on screen will stop talking and revive us with action. The effects and fighting truly are the only saving grace. And it just barely.
And so it gets very, very noisy, as it must. It also rarely makes a lick of sense. “The Last Witch Hunter” is an assemblage of sequences featuring visually incomprehensible fighting or scenes in which characters fruitlessly attempt to explain what just happened, and/or why they happened. They’re strung together with Dieselgrunting, the common element in a film that’s tragically witless, and tries with all its might to be no fun whatsoever.