Film Review – The Last Duel (2021)

Title – The Last Duel (2021) 

Director – Ridley Scott (Gladiator) 

Cast – Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck

Plot – Based on the true story of one of France’s most renowned duels to the death that involved knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and his one time friend and squire Jacques Le Gris (Driver) after Carruoges wife Marguerite (Comer) accuses Le Gris of an horrific act of violence against her. 

“I say before all of you, I spoke the truth!”

Review by Eddie on 22/10/2021

His best film since 2007’s American Gangster, Ridley Scott’s newest two hour plus dramatic epic The Last Duel see’s the esteemed British director team up with stars and screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (with help on the writing front from fellow filmmaker Nicole Holofcener) to deliver a gripping, confronting and even grueling examination of one of France’s most infamous duels of the middle ages that may not appear to be on paper as tension ridden and engaging as it is as a finished product. 

Those expecting more Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood or Gladiator old school Scott may be disappointed by what Duel offers, despite the fact the infrequent battle scenes here are some of the best you’ve likely seen on the big screen in some time, but as the film breaks away into three distinct acts exploring the version of events that form the crux of this story from the viewpoint of Matt Damon’s dedicated knight Jean de Carrouges, Adam Driver’s charming but potentially devious squire Jacques Le Gris and Jodie Comer’s intelligent but repressed wife Marguerite, Duel becomes one of Scott’s most incendiary and challenging films of his long-standing career. 

Duel takes its time to get its full head of steam in momentum, with viewers likely to find themselves trying hard to wrap their minds around everything going on in the early stages of the film with Scott rushing around through time and locations to get Duel to the place it needs to be to really take hold but once it finds its groove, the brilliant collection of performances (with Ben Affleck a surprising joy also in small amounts of screen-time as the blond haired royal Pierre d’Alençon) and clever way of exploring a life defining moment for all involved and what lead them to the particular instance in time ensuring Duel will have you under its spell right up until a heart pounding and masterfully staged finale. 

Amongst all the technical prowess and storytelling genius are a number of intriguing sub stories to take note of with Duel offering rising British star Jodie Comer her biggest Hollywood breakthrough yet, with her turn as the charming Marguerite likely to get her attention at the soon to arrive awards season, why the ever impressive Driver is as good as his ever been as the smirking, devilishly charming and detestable Jacques Le Gris. 

It’s a real shame that by the time many would’ve seen Duel the story that will prevail most prominently about this mature and topical production will be around its noteworthy failings to capture audiences at the box office booths around the world and in a time and place where these type of adult oriented dramas are becoming less common commodities, it’s a real shame Scott’s best work in decades will have to work hard in the year’s to come to find its true worth in audiences minds. 

Final Say – 

It’s not always easy to watch but The Last Duel is one of the best examples of the medieval drama in some time and with a raft of quality performances and smart filmmaking, Ridley Scott’s latest films stands out as one of the best mainstream releases of 2021. 

4 gloves out of 5  

14 responses to “Film Review – The Last Duel (2021)

  1. Absolute shame regarding this film’s box office returns so far. Had a fun time with it and was left thinking about the choices made long after the film ended. Hope it gets a second wind of sorts.

    • Agreed completely. I do think once it hits streaming and rental markets audiences will discover and share news of the film. It might not be a masterpiece but it’s a great piece of dramatic storytelling regardless.

  2. Terrific film . I really enjoyed The Martian but for sure American Gangster is top notch. I think this was badly sold. Don’t think the studio knew how to sell it. It is far more drama than epic. I’m surprised the MeToo element didn’t help snare an audience.

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