Starring Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood and Micahel Caine. Written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Directed by Breck Eisner. 106 minutes. Budget $90 mil.
So, boiled-egg-headed action man, Vin Diesel is Kaulder an 800 year-old witch hunter, indeed the witch hunter of the title, and he's the last to boot, which is helpful cos he ticks off both the main points of the movie's title.
He's a loveable, big bear of a man, mellow to a fault and world weary to such an extent that at no point in this film does he ever really lose his rage or cool even when his only friend, Michael Caine whom he calls 'son' dies horribly at the hands of a bad witch...
Caulder works for a secret order of Catholic priests called the Axencross and his job is to police the secret world of witches, who apparently live amongst us in secret and have pinkie sweared not to do magic against humans. He's aided by Micheal Caine's 36th Dolan (a silly title given to a line of priests sworn to aid Caulder till their dying breath). Vinnie spends his days and nights, shaving his head, polishing it till it shines, practicing his gruff Bane impersonation and shagging airline stewardesses. That is when he's not slapping the wrists of naughty young female witches for mixing up their elemental crystals or, if they're male and ugly, smashing in their heads and delivering them to the Witch council for punishment. Naturally the council presides over the only witch prison on the planet built beneath the streets of New York, surely that's not a good idea? I mean keeping all the bad witches in the same prison right under the biggest urban metropolis on the planet, I mean haven't these guys watched Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban. I bet that comes back and bites them on their bottoms at some point in this movie or my name isn't The Amazing Dave!
Anyway, since this movie is the origin story part of a long-dreamed for new franchise for the Disel machine, we get to learn how Vince got to be immortal, it was fighting and killing the Witch Queen who cursed him to immortality with her dying breath. Don't worry that's not a spoiler that happens before the credits. Flash forward 800 years and there's a new big bad witch called Belial as played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson and he's paving the way for the return of the Witch Queen by killing witches, obviously and taunting Caulder, which both seem like stupid things to do if you're a witch, but what do i know, this might be totally normal behaviour and exactly what you have to do if you're trying to pave the way for the return of the Witch Queen.
This film has a fatal flaw and it's not Vin Diesel, although he runs it a close second, he's sadly let down by a terrible supporting cast that includes Rose Leslie who it seems learned how to act by watching Emma Watson's style of almost crying with every word and Elijah Wood who just doesn't work in anything that doesn't involve big hairy feet and ears. His character delivers a twist so silly you end up laughing. Only Michael Caine manages to avoid any criticism by brilliantly and literally sleeping through most of the film, thus having to avoid the worst of it.
Incredibly for this sort of thing, a lot of time has been spent developing the back story of this world, which is highly commendable but in doing it seems to have missed something, like a sense of adventure, Caulder is so laid back he never feels in jeopardy and the main threat, Belial is utterly wasted and dispatched with ridiculous ease that it just leaves a final showdown with the Witch Queen, which since he's already defeated her right back in the beginning doesn't make this final confrontation that much of a showdown.