The Last Duel, the latest edge-of-your-seat flick from Ridley Scott, was mostly ignored at the box office. But those who did watch it enjoyed it. Starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck, Marton Csokas, and Harriet Walter, The Last Duel enjoyed decent critic reviews, with Esther Zuckerman of the Thrillist writing, “It’s a strange, long horror comedy about how women in the 14th century were at the mercy of dudes who were vain, petty, and cruel, only concerned with their own status even when someone’s life is at stake.” Despite the rave of people whose job it is to watch movies, casual moviegoers seem to have not noticed the movie’s existence. Only earning a fraction of its $100 million budget, The Last Duel bombed in the box office, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Still, if you’re one of the handful of people who watched the movie and enjoyed it, here are a few recommendations you can watch to continue the mood.
The storytelling trick of taking different character perspectives, which prominently featured in The Last Duel, originated from the genius of Akira Kurosawa in his movie Rashomon. The movie, which starred legendary Japanese actors Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masauyuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, is considered one of the best films ever made, having inspired directors like Martin Scorsese. Writing about the legacy of Rashomon, BFI took note of the film’s ingenious storytelling process: “Central to the legacy of Rashomon is its revolutionary approach to plotting, which introduces narrative uncertainty by way of flashbacks depicting the conflicting accounts of a major dramatic incident from its 4 main witnesses.” Roger Ebert‘s review of the movie also praised how Kurosawa unfolded the story of the movie: “The genius of “Rashomon” is that all of the flashbacks are both true and false. True, in that they present an accurate portrait of what each witness thinks happened. False, because as Kurosawa observes in his autobiography, “Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing.”
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Another movie that you should watch when you’re done with The Last Duel is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a movie that also features mano-a-mano scenes. A Clint Eastwood classic, a Western that essentially made his career, the movie also stars Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cliff. Perhaps one of the most celebrated spaghetti Westerns in the history of film, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly continues to be held in high regard, sustaining an impressive 97 percent certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Kim Newman of Empire Magazine wrote about the movie: “Amid the endless homages and the sheer adoration meted out to Sergio Leone’s ambitious, pricier finale to his Spaghetti Western trilogy, it’s easy to forget just how damn good the film is.”
Also made by Ridley Scott more than 20 years ago, Gladiator is a must-watch if you want to further experience Scott’s unique storytelling style. Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, and many others, Gladiator was well-received during its premiere year, having snagged multiple awards and nominations. At the Academy Awards, it won in five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor for Russel Crowe, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects. A review of the Hollywood Reporter of the movie heaped praise on Crowe’s performance, writing: “Following up on his recent best actor Oscar nomination, Russell Crowe solidly anchors this epic-scale gladiator movie — the first in nearly four decades — by using his burly frame and expressive face to give dimension to what might otherwise have been comic book heroics. A guy’s guy, but one who should have considerable appeal for women as well, Crowe will be a major factor in the worldwide success of this ultimate jock movie from DreamWorks and Universal.”
An interesting movie to watch after The Last Duel is The Martian, which features the talents of both Matt Damon and Ridley Scott, both of whom worked on The Last Duel. The official plot of the movie is as follows: “When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.” The Martian fully developed Damon and Scott’s working relationship, which explains why their collaboration on The Last Duel was so smooth and natural. A review of The Martian for New Yorker wrote: “Damon has never seemed more at home than he does here, millions of miles adrift. Would any other actor have shouldered the weight of the role with such diligent grace?”
Kingdom of Heaven
Last movie on the list is Kingdom of Heaven, another period piece by Ridley Scott. The movie stars Eva Green, Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, and Martin Csokas. “Still in grief over his wife’s sudden death, village blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) joins his long-estranged father, Baron Godfrey (Liam Neeson), as a crusader on the road to Jerusalem. After a perilous journey to the holy city, the valiant young man enters the retinue of the leprous King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton), which is rife with dissent led by the treacherous Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas), who wishes to wage war against the Muslims for his own political and personal gain.” Kingdom of Heaven is one of Scott’s less appreciated films, only getting a measly 39 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A particularly harsh review from Cole Smithey read: “Cinema’s least potent leading man-child, Orlando Bloom, stinks up the screen in Ridley Scott’s unsatisfying “epic” about the Crusades, in which Christians promoted century-long bloody battles with the Muslim world in the 11th and 12th centuries.” Still, it’s a movie worthy of a watch if you particularly enjoyed Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel.