The Last Samurai

Bomb Rating: 

If Tom Cruise makes any more movies like "The Last Samurai," people are going to start referring to him as the Rosie Ruiz of acting. Careless viewers may think he's accomplished something, but only because he's so literal in his presentation that they're forced to take cover as the typhoon of melodrama blows off the screen.

Director Edward ("Glory") Zwick's and writer John ("Gladiator") Logan's film is the "Pearl Harbor" of Samurai movies. Political correctness doesn't even begin to describe the ground this film happily stampedes over.

Capt. Nathan Algren (Cruise), feeling guilty about his role slaughtering Indians in the Civil War, accepts an assignment in Japan training an army to defeat Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), an honorable Samurai warrior who's in the way of progress. After an initial battle goes awry, Algren is captured and develops a deep respect for the Samurai way of life. He spars with Katsumoto and falls in love with his sister, Taka (Koyuki), who returns the favor despite the fact that Nate previously plunged a sword through her husband's face. Oh, and white men make her sick, but she comes around because, you know, it's Tom Cruise.

As everyone's honor begins to hinge on the emotional resonance of the spoken word, Logan's dialogue takes on the tone of a eulogy: The words are so leaden with meaning that they drop off the screen like anvils. Even worse is the climactic charge through cannonball fire which defies logic (cannons cannot adjust for distance quickly). When Cruise's final words are expelled from this 148-minute slug, it's like being released from jail.

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