Worth $8.50? $6.50? Matinee prices? This one's
hard to call in ticket price terms. I won't pay $8.50 for most any
movie, and although The Last Samurai has
at least one very big draw, whether it's nonetheless most any
movie or something distinct and outstanding is up to you, fellow
The big draw? I'm not referring to Tom -- Tom
Cruise, the heartthrob and superstar (who does wear
it well, I'll admit, even if off screen he embarrasses himself hobbling
about on his pop religion crutches, Scientology). You know.
The guy's a "superstar," so he takes the superstar roles,
too often enough, generally crashing bores. Well, that's Hollywood.
Okay, he's got more class than that, Tom Cruise. I'm being unfair.
Didn't he play that seriously tough fellow suffering like a banshee
post-tongue-removal in the kool off-beat flick Magnolia,
starred also Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Macy, two of the finest
actors in America, and (I adore her) Julianne Moore? Yeah, okay, Cruise
is pretty kool a lot of the time; and it's Hollywood and our American
idolization that ruins him every third or fourth movie role.
Oh, this is a review of The Last Samurai.
Forgive me! I got carried away. He's a charmer, Tom Cruise! And I
want to scorn him and I want to change him at the same time.
No need to scorn what he does in this movie,
though, because here he subordinates himself to what I take to be
a pretty darn gutsy and strong statement this timely flick makes.
The Last Samurai is not about Tom Cruise or
his tortured character, Captain Nathan Algren. This movie's about
conscience, courage, integrity,
and the ravages of military profiteering, which didn't
begin with WWI, as T. S. Eliot and others suggested in their poetries
back then, or Vietnam and Dow Chemicals, or this present
fall of man, the Iraq War and the despicable likes of Halliburton
and Bechtel and god knows how many other rotten-fink scoundrel
outfits pillaging the Middle East. No, war profiteering apparently
goes at least back as far as the days of the post-Civil War extermination
and genocide of the American indigenous peoples when that Victorian
era's Halliburtons and Bechtels, Winchester and Remington,
pushed their thugs across continents to manipulate transitional governments
like Japan. That's what The Last Samurai boldly and seamlessly
dramatises, and for this reason alone is worth the price of admission.
Congrats to Tom Cruise sticking to his courage
and integrity with this project. His character Nathan Algren would
be a rare hero in this age, I suspect immediately rendered invisible
by our media or taunted and marginalized like what they try to do
to Michael Moore, who also crusades against weapons manufacturers.
Thank you, Tom Cruise! There's more evil and treachery and greed and
corruption in the world today than a thousand Last Samurai movies
can shake a stick at, but this film of yours gives us hope and delivers
a sound thrashing to the kinds of companies and scoundrels who profit
from genocide and impose military technologies on vulnerable peoples
in need of more human solutions. Many kudos to your guts, Dear Tom!
You've come a long way since the days of your so-called Top Guns.