47 Ronin

[CAPSULE] Based on a real Japanese legend stemming from actual events, “47 Ronin” is about a white samurai who helps his cohorts get revenge against a shape-shifting witch. (One suspects the story has been embellished.) I don’t know enough about the tale to say whether it’s offensive to insert Keanu Reeves as the star (probably yes?), but I know enough about movies to say that this banal, generic samurai epic is flatly uninteresting, tedious, and overlong.

Reeves’ character, Kai, an outcast “half-breed” of unknown origin, has an extraneous, unconvincing love interest in Ko Shibasaki, who pines for him and the others as they seek justice for a rival province’s witch-based treachery. As the sorceress, Rinko Kikuchi almost hams it up enough to be entertaining. But with no engaging characters, plot surprises, or stand-out battle scenes, you have to wonder who this was even made for. (Bonus: Kai’s non-Japaneseness has no effect on the story and is only included so that the movie could have an American lead actor.)

D (1 hr., 58 min.; PG-13, lots of violence including beheadings.)