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It’s been 24 years since Matt Damon and Ben Affleck last collaborated on a movie script.
Let’s make it 100 next time!
The insufferable new film from the “Good Will Hunting” duo, “The Last Duel,” doesn’t make a strong argument for them as some of our greatest scribes. It does, however, torment viewers with nails-on-the-chalkboard writing and the pace of the World’s Slowest Snail.
Running time: 152 minutes. Rated R (strong violence including sexual assault, sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language). In theaters.
Or escargot, I suppose, as the movie is set in medieval France. Damon plays a knight named Jean and Affleck is a powerful Count who looks like Will Ferrell’s Mugatu character from “Zoolander.”
After Jean gets in a tiff over land with a noble called Le Gris (Adam Driver), the piggish Count sides with Le Gris and soon begins to prefer his company to the knight’s.
Up to this point, the movie is basically a turgid, dude-heavy version of Yorgos Lanthimos’ brilliant “The Favourite,” but with none of its humor, panache or, ya know, good acting.
You’ll need a flashlight to make it through. It’s not technically shot in black and white, but director Ridley Scott comes awfully close to grayscale.
Things turn even darker when the fierce new wife of Jean, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), is raped by Le Gris in her own home, and her husband is forced to defend her and his honor in a duel to prove her innocence.
Critics will give this dud a pass because of the relevancy of the abuse plot. Don’t believe them. Degreasing a stove is a more enjoyable way to spend your Saturday night.
Hoping the acting prowess of Damon and Affleck might save their shoddy text? Désolé, mon frères. The voices, made posh because France, are less animated than many satellite navigation systems. Although separated by centuries, Damon is the same monotonous meathead that he was in “Stillwater,” and Affleck, whose bleach-blond hair might be the result of a freak shampoo accident, is the most ambivalent fop to ever grace a screen.
For his part, Driver is really testing the limits of how often he can deliver the exact same performance from “Girls.” It’s a delicious signature dish, to be sure, but he can’t coast on it forever.
The redeeming factor here is Comer — trapped, victimized and blamed — who transposes her “Killing Eve” edge perfectly to less sexy 1300s Europe. Too bad her dramatic complication comes so late and after so many yawns.
Next order of business: Take away all writing utensils from Damon and Affleck’s homes. Leave no laptop, typewriter, pen, pencil, quill or telegraph behind. Batman and Jason Bourne must be stopped.