Hocus-pocus and hugger-mugger abound in “The Last Witch Hunter,” which finds Vin Diesel in the title role battling (see title) in New York City.
Spells are cast, demons are destroyed and the computer-generated effects run riot throughout.
Diesel’s character, Kaulder, is a brawny 800-year-old condemned to eternal life with the supposed last breath of the wrinkly Witch Queen (German-French actress Julie Engelbrecht, much uglified by heavy prosthetic makeup). He’s been knocking off her demonic spawn for centuries and frankly is getting a little tired of the whole business. But lately there have been portents that the old queen is reviving, and so who’re you going to call? You know who.
At the heart of the tale is a disembodied heart that’s been pulsing and palpitating down through the centuries in an undisclosed location, and if it’s ever reunited with its body, well, partner, watch out. The phrase “hell to pay” will not be a mere phrase in that dire case.
Michael Caine, who apparently has never met a script he’s been able to turn down, plays a priest who serves as best friend and adviser to Kaulder. Crowned with a stylish black fedora, he provides the filmmakers with an excuse to give a tip of the literal hat to Max von Sydow’s iconic cleric in “The Exorcist.”
Caine’s performance, like Diesel’s and every other actor in the cast, is competent but unremarkable. The picture, a far cry from “The Exorcist,” offers nothing fresh. It’s the kind of roller coaster Hollywood churns out seemingly in its sleep, oversaturated with effects shots and plot implausibilities. Ten minutes after you’ve seen it you’ll have forgotten all about it.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER
☆☆☆ out of 5
Cast: Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine and Rose Leslie.
Director: Breck Eisner.
Running time: 1:46.
Rated: PG-13, for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images, drug use.