The fact that this movie’s release date was postponed by an entire year, ostensibly to allow for reshoots that would enhance Keanu Reeves’ entirely fictional role in a Western blockbuster adaptation of a legendary, breathtaking tale straight from the pages of Japanese history would never sound like good news for any person hearing of it. One may assume that route leads to eventual catastrophe, and 47 Ronin’s dull trailers sparked conversation on simply how awful this film was going to be. It turns out that every critique and concern you had about this movie came true. This was a movie that had no need to exist and severely damaged Keanu Reeves’ filmography.
How to Download 47 Ronin
You can download or stream the film from a digital platform. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like Keanu Reeves, check him out also in The Matrix (1999), Constantine (2005), or John Wicki (2014).
The Movie Review
The essential elements of the real-life narrative are all present in this film. The compassionate Lord Asano is given the order to commit Seppuku after nearly killing Lord Kira. This makes all the honorable ronin masterless. The devoted group of 47 ronin, led by the noble Oishi, swear to get revenge on Asano despite being told not to by their Shogun. Naturally, the majority of the rest of it is complete nonsensical fiction. Reeves portrays Kai, a half-Japanese, half-British orphan who is adopted by Asano and vows revenge.
47 Ronin is a fictionalized version of the already existing 47 ronin story in Japan. In this big blockbuster film that you’re never supposed to watch, everything that happens it’s to further the plot and nothing else. The villain can literally set fields on fire with the flick of her wrist, but she can’t kill the 47 ronin. None of it makes sense, and I doubt that any of it was supposed to. The film entirely relies on its big CGI moisture fights and the fact that it has Keanu Reeves in the cast. Director Carl Rinsch has managed to create a film so bland, that even the characters don’t really care about what’s going on.
The main issue I had with the movie was that it ended far too quickly. They neglected to include significant character development for the witch and a few other characters, which may have given the movie more emotional fire. Additionally, the entire film might have easily been extended by twenty or thirty minutes. If it were, it could have been a much more emotionally resonant tale. Why is this character good? Why is this particular character a bad person?
These were the questions I was asking myself throughout, and none of them were answered by the time credits were rolling.
Although the dialogue in the script was nicely constructed, there were a lot of corny phrases. However, the overarching plot lacked any real profundity or thought. It doesn’t help that most of the actors here don’t really do a great job, Keanu Reeves doesn’t really act that well in this film even though he is usually good with the silent strong protagonist role.
Hiroyuki Sanada, who portrays Oishi was the backbone of this film, truly carrying it on his shoulders for the entirety of its runtime. He’s the only one that received an actual arc too, where he went from despising Kai as a character to accepting him as a warrior.
Visually though, this film is very appealing. The cinematography might not be the best in the industry, but the way this film is drowning in color, and the monster design is inspired by Japanese mythology, those aspects make it unique to the eyes. The music by Ilan Eshkeri is consistently good, it has a weird mix of Japanese and modern Western music, which worked to the film’s strengths as a hybrid of those two themes.
47 Ronin is essentially one of those films that try to raise the stakes in a real-world historical story by adding fictional elements, yet those elements feel misplaced here.
This film is visually quite delightful, it does a great job of handling the historical setting as well as the mythological and fantastical fight sequences and monster designs. The VFX team did a marvelous job here, but the cast did not do their homework. However, just like films that have tried this format before, 47 Ronin falls flat when it comes to the emotional aspect, especially since a lot of it is rushed through. I would like to add that it’s nearly not as bad as most reviews are making it out to be, though!
- Brilliant VFX and action sequences
- Good soundtrack that adds to the film
- Hiroyuki Sanada is fantastic
- Overly rushed pacing
- Characters don’t get to develop
- Unanswered questions throughout the film
- Most of the cast including lead actor Keanu Reeves don’t do a great job