Tom Cruise is a Big Lame-O in Last Samurai

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

Ultimately, the most interesting thing about The Last Samurai is how endlessly weird it is.

I don’t mean weird in a David Lynch sort of way. I mean weird in a “I can’t believe they got this made and I can’t believe people are eating it up” sort of way.

You see, The Last Samurai is gift-wrapped and sent to us from Sept. 10, 2001. It proves once and for all that if John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban so discussed a few years back) had had cute blue eyes and had starred in Risky Business, we all would have found him loveable.

The Last Samurai is the story of Nathan Algren (Cruise), a man who is trying to forget his past.

The Japanese government offers to pay him scads of money if he will just go to Japan and train various extras in the ways of modern warfare. In its first battle against the dreaded samurai, the army is decimated and the samurai take Algren prisoner for no good reason. Eventually, he’s fighting his old American compatriots. Hence, John Walker Lindh.

Despite these parallels to a man many condemned as a traitor, the audience I saw this with ( right here in Fox News country, no less) ate this up! Hollywood has figured out that if you throw enough crap up on screen and make the movie longer than two hours, the vast majority of people will leave feeling as though they have seen something profound.

This movie is endlessly predictable because director Edward Zwick telegraphs everything he does. If you see a character and suspect he or she may be evil, they invariably are. If they seem noble, they are. And so on.

Despite its wishes to be anti-American imperialism, The Last Samurai somehow manages to be very much for it in the end, because Algren teaches the samurai more than they teach him. He never really stops being a punk-ass-American to believe in the samurai code.

He just ends up becoming a punk-ass-American samurai, which should be against their code (as near as I can fathom from what the movie tells of what they believe-which is next to nothing).

The sequence in this movie that does work is a completely unnecessary ninja battle in the middle of the movie.

The ninjas just sort of show up and start killing things, as though they had wandered over from another movie. I can only hope they’ll start infiltrating other films.

In the end, there’s nothing in The Last Samurai that hasn’t been done better over 100 times before.

Don’t see it. Rent some Kurosawa or go for a walk or something. Tom Cruise doesn’t need your money.

2 stars