Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Issei Ogata, Ciaran Hinds
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Plot: Two priests (Garfield, Driver) travel to Japan in the 1600’s to rescue their fallen mentor (Neeson), who has reportedly denounced the faith.
What Works: Even though I think this is not a perfect film, I still want to commend Scorsese for making a challenging film that is about something. He has crafted a masterpiece on faith, and having faith even in the darkest of hours, and challenging what that actually means. He’s helped by Garfield, who turns in an absolutely fantastic performance. He channels Scorsese’s spirit in a way that DiCaprio has for years. He seems to perfectly understand what story Scorsese is trying to tell, and he is present in every moment. The rest of the cast did good, but Garfield is the heart of this film, and he keeps it alive even in the slowest moments. The cinematography here is fantastic too. There are some truly breathtaking shots of the landscape that reminded me of The Revenant. It reminds us how cold and dark this country can be, mirroring how cold and dark this film is. It’s actually not an extremely violent film, but it does use its few moments really well.
What Doesn’t Work: Pacing issues. It’s really too long. I think Scorsese could have told the same story, with about 10-15 minutes less in the runtime. Also, I have a problem with the casting of Liam Neeson. He’s a fantastic actor. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Liam Neeson. But when Scorsese asks his cast to put on these bizarre accents, and Driver, Garfield, and Hinds all do their best to deliver… and then you have Neeson, who can’t get rid of his signature voice to save his life… I notice. I notice that these four characters are all supposed to be from Portugal, bu only three of them have the accent. Someone should have pointed that out to Scorsese in his casting. Neeson doesn’t do accents, and his failure to do so makes me wonder why we bothered to make the other actors do them.
Final Word: A challenging watch, but an ultimately rewarding watch. It’s not Scorsese’s best film, but its a film he should still be commended for. More importantly, Garfield shows why he’s one of the best, new fresh faces in Hollywood, and it’s a great Oscar bid for him. Sadly, he has to compete against himself for Hacksaw Ridge. Hopefully, he’ll get nominated for one of them.
Final Grade: B+