There’s a scene about halfway into 47 Ronin that sees a nicely CG’d demon monk and Keanu “half-breed” Reeves circling menacingly around a sword in the ground, beckoning to be picked up. As the two make their simplistic moral standpoints, the sword is still in the ground. When they reiterate the plot and Keanu’s background for the fourth time, the sword is still in the ground. Then they stop and stare at each other – sword still in ground – before finally going at it, only to have it all end in an unsatisfying instant. Right there you have 47 Ronin in a nutshell.
To be fair, the rapturous climax deserves merit, but the energy and enthusiasm in those last 15 minutes is absent from the prior 100. Perhaps you can ignore the silly script (“I vowed never to use my magical powers”), the poor line delivery (Keanu’s stilted and his love interest worse) or the film’s inability to juggle its supplementary characters played by high-end Japanese talent – Hiroyuki Sanada (The Twilight Samurai), Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat). However, it’s hard to ignore the overwhelming sense of dullness as the story plods along with an unbreakably straight face.
For a film that decides to splice heavy fantasy elements with a legendary human tale, it lacks the creativity to justify the blend. Hiding behind quick cuts and obscuring camera angles, Keanu’s fights with imaginary beasts fail to impress. It’s a shame, because 47 Ronin can be a real eye-pleaser with its well-realised backdrops and set designs that make fine use of 3D. Pacific Rim darling Rinko Kikuchi also dishes out a performance as the baddie witch that’s suitably more cartoonish than the rest – she might be the only one who “gets it.”
’47 Ronin’ Movie Times (also playing in 3D)