The Last Duel: Why Ridley Scott's Medieval Movie Really Bombed

The Last Duel bombed at the box office. Ridley Scott's Medieval legal thriller based on a well-documented true story was lavish, expensive, and had Important Film written all over it. It didn't have the cultural impact that Ridley Scott or the studio hoped it would. Scott has since gone on a "get off my lawn!"-style tirade, blaming the film's failure on Millennials and their short attention spans and obsessions with their smartphones.

The Last Duel Review: All Men Are Trash As Execution Negates Intent
Adam Driver as Jacques LeGris and Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges in 20th Century Studios' THE LAST DUEL. Photo by Patrick Redmond. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

This smacks of sour grapes and is entirely untrue. Millennials are perfectly capable of sitting through a movie if they are interested in it. The truth is, The Last Duel is completely unappealing to any moviegoer of any age. After all, some reviewers called it a "mature" story that might have appealed to older audiences. However, the pandemic meant they stayed home because they were more vulnerable and wary of the Coronavirus. Ridley Scott didn't go on a rant about old people staying home because they didn't want to risk dying from a viral infection just to see a not-very-good movie.

Here's the bottom line for why The Last Duel bombed: Who the hell wants to see a movie about a violent rape? Who wants to see a film about a violent rape that's shown TWICE and then shows the victim belittled, abused, and sidelined while her rapist and her husband fight to the death? Who in their right mind is going to say, "Let's go see that new movie about rape in medieval times, darling! That sounds like a grand night out!"

The Last Duel is no fun at all. At first glance, it might have had potential – Matt Damon and Adam Driver are in it, Jodie Comer, of Killing Eve fame, is in it. Ridley Scott directed it. For all the PR about it being a feminist inquiry into the lack of women's rights and agency in the Middle Ages, the movie is a joyless slog that doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. Men rape women and lie, thinking they can get away with it, check. Women are treated like property at best and garbage at worst in those days, check. Women are not believed and suffer abuse and gaslighting, check. Why would any of us want to pay $20 and sit through nearly 3 hours of this when we hear about this on the news all the time?

Sometimes, the wisdom of the crowd makes sense.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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