'The Last King' review: Part history lesson, part thrilling action adventure
The origin of Haakon IV of Norway is the stuff of legend. The story is every bit extraordinary as it is unbelievable - and the Nordic 13th century epic "The Last King" (screening at the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival) lives up to the legend.
In short: In the brutal 13th century Norwegian wilderness, two warriors must protect the infant heir to the throne from a horde of invaders and a treacherous noble intent on taking the crown for himself. (Watch the trailer)
This gripping action adventure immediately grab's the audiences attention and doesn't let go until the final credits. The deceptive simplicity of "The Last King" allows the focus remain locked on its primary crisis - that a literal army wants the infant king's dead - while also allowing the filmmaker to weave in intricate, densely packed dramatic layers.
The former king didn't simply die - he is assassinated. An invading army wants to end the line of Norwegian kings at all costs -- and even those once loyal to Norway's royal line have treacherous machinations to take the crown for themselves. There are so many moving parts that work in harmony to relentlessly ratchet up the stakes and escalate the threats facing the two brave warriors and their infant king.
And this isn't merely a film that moves. "The Last King" is a marvel is cinematography as the heroes are ceaselessly pursued down Norwegian mountainsides and stunning nordic vistas. This only adds to the epic nature of this adventure - and one that also pays off in the action department as well. In what amounts to one movie-length chase sequence, "Last King" also features its share of brutal fights that will satisfy any "Game of Thrones" fan.
Although none of the villains are particularly complex or multi-dimensional characters, "The Last King" is less of a heavy character drama than it is an engaging and fun adventure. A couple of dropped or underdeveloped plot points can be forgiven - and the movie is entertaining enough that its occasional plot bobble is quickly forgotten.
Final verdict: "The Last King" is a bad ass, sword-swinging action-adventure from beginning to end.
"The Last King" is not yet rated and is scheduled for a limited release in the U.S. on June 17.