Starring Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Timothy Spall, Tony Goldwyn, Koyuki, Hiroyuki Sanada, Billy Connolly
Escapist. Idealistic. Romantic.
The Last Samurai is a complete fantasy. Silly wish fulfillment, cultural appropriation aside, I love this film. Tom Cruise, a traumatized, boozing veteran of the American Indian War, becomes a mercenary hired to train Japan’s Imperial Army. After a disastrous battle ends with him being taken hostage by a rebel band of samurai, he slowly grows to love and appreciate the samurai way of life. This formula has been recycled a number of times: The Last of the Mohicans, Dances With Wolves, Avatar, Pocahontas. I contend that this Tom Cruise vehicle is the best of them. It romanticizes everything well past realism, but as make-believe, it’s wonderful and finely crafted.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-