Have you seen The Last Witch Hunter yet? Or follow-up question, have you seen it recently? Because you really should. It’s not that the 2015 Vin Diesel fantasy vehicle is good (although it is), it’s that it’s possibly proof that magic exists. If not actual magic, it’s definitely evidence that sometimes positive thinking is powerful enough to will a movie into existence.
The story itself centers on Diesel’s character, Kaulder, the 800-year-old witch hunter cursed to eternal life by the witch queen he helped kill, and absolutely does not matter. The things that do matter?
Michael Caine is there. He plays Dolan 36th, a priest who is responsible for assisting Kaulder in his quest to root out and kill evil witches, and also Dolan sets up credit cards for him and stuff. Because Kaulder can detect an accent from Sefrou even though the speaker hasn’t lived there in years, but doesn’t understand two-step verification, apparently. Kaulder does things like call Dolan 36th “kid” and it’s cute because it’s absolutely the way Vin Diesel himself would probably call an older woman “miss” when he’s trying to fake flirt with her.
But Dolan 36th is getting old and needs to retire, so enter Dolan 37th, played by Elijah Wood.
Wood is taking over as Kaulder’s righthand man/person to explain magic to, and spends the majority of the movie looking like he has no idea what’s going on in a way that’s either incredibly innocent or about to get super creepy. There is no in-between with Elijah Wood, and I love him for that. (Just a quick side note, but I feel like Wood has been underutilized by Hollywood in the past few years. Every single movie of his I see–and yes, I paid money in the theater to see Flipper, twice–my expectations are “he’s the hero” or “he eats people.” There has to be more to do with that kind of range.) They then team up with Rose Leslie playing a witch, but the cool kind.
She has a bar and follows all of the Witch Rules and manages to not once make a Game of Thrones reference and I respect her for that. The three of them work together to… listen, I was going to vaguely tell you sort of what happens in a way that informs you about the movie without giving away any secrets. But I don’t want to. Because, again, the plot doesn’t matter.
It’s not that it doesn’t matter because it’s not good. It just doesn’t matter because telling this story wasn’t the reason this movie got made. This movie got made so that Vin Diesel could Live Action Role Play some Dungeons & Dragons.
Pictured: What this movie is actually about
Think about it from the perspective of Vin Diesel. Diesel grew up a D&D nerd named Mark Sinclair who, through a combination of steely charisma and deep-voiced badassadry, created for himself an action movie star career where every line he delivers is the “one-liner” line. The line where the hero says the cool thing right before doing the cool thing? Vin Diesel only says his lines like that. He doesn’t have another mode. Of course he believes in magic, his life is so.
After establishing a solid career based on angrily moving quickly from place to place, Diesel produced and starred in a movie where he gets to walk around looking for and explaining magic to people. He gets captured in fantasy worlds created by witches designed to harness his power. He gets to go to bakeries run by a warlock who is secretly adding magic bugs to his doughnuts to get them to sell. He battles the Witch Queen who killed his family and takes her out by stabbing her through the heart. You think he’s going to make this movie and not walk around with a flaming sword?
The plot of this movie? The dialogue and acting even? Not nearly as important as the unbridled joy that comes through when Vin Diesel sets his sword on fire. The only thing missing is him getting to actually ride a dragon, and for your sake and mine, and of course Vin Diesel’s, I hope they fix that in the sequel.