“The Dark Tower” is Nikolaj Arcel’s lovechild of “Man on Fire” and “Harry Potter.”
Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has recurring visions and dreams of a dark tower that sits in the middle of the universe under attack. He watches as children, one by one, are strapped to a chair against their will. Their heads are hooked to a machine that taps into their minds that send dangerous beams across the sky. Each beam strikes the tower and slowly chips its away.
Although these shenanigans are happening on a planet far away, Earth gets backlash from it with massive earthquakes. Jake also dreams of Roland (Idris Elba), the last gunslinger. The gunslingers were sworn to protect the tower from all darkness. But after seeing his fellow men and his own father (Dennis Haysbert) die by the hand of evil sorcerer the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), he’s only fighting for vengeance.
While escaping “doctors” who want to escort him to a therapeutic clinic (the Man in Black’s child prison), Jake finds an abandoned house with a portal. The portal whisks him off to another planet where he meets Roland. Together, Jake and Roland travel the land to find an ancient tribe that can find the meaning behind Jake’s visions.
“The Dark Tower” is based on Stephen King’s book series. But this film is said to take place after the books. The film has a Harry Potter-feel to it because of Jake being the chosen one. He gets teased at school for drawing pictures of the tower, Roland and the Man in Black. He lost his father, and to top it all off, his mother (Katheryn Winnick) and her rotten boyfriend find him crazy for having these dreams. It’s an almost-perfect resemblance to the Boy Who Lived.
Roland is so much like Denzel Washington’s John Creasy in 2004’s “Man on Fire,” they could be twins. After serving as an assassin for many years, Creasy is assigned to bodyguard a family in Mexico. He vows not to get close with the people he serves and is on the brink of self-destruction. But with Lupita’s (Dakota Fanning) childish charm, Creasy becomes fond of the girl and he starts feeling human again. Roland, like Creasy, knows the ins and outs of his gun like a musician knows his instrument. Roland becomes fond of Jake, as if he were his son. He does everything in his power to rescue him countless times from the Man in Black’s goons.
McConaughey is funny and diabolical as the Man in Black. He’s as sinister as Lord Voldemort with his simple commandeering spells from “stop breathing” to “kill each other.” People do whatever he says.
“The Dark Tower” is great for its fans. But they should have kept the “Man on Fire” side of this movie going. After Lupita’s kidnapping, we were focused and captivated by all that Washington was doing. The first half of the film could have been dedicated to showing Jake finding Roland. Then the second half should have shown Roland using his wits and skills to find Jake. This would allow us to know and understand Roland better. Besides wanting vengeance and his love for his father, we don’t know much about Roland.
Sony should’ve started with a prequel film. We could see all the other gunslingers and the war they all fought in against the Man in Black. It should end with Roland being the last known gunslinger. Then this movie can step in. I also wish there was more violence. Sure there was the scene in the previews where Roland fired his gun and the bullet flew so far that it pinpointed that monster in the head. But that was the only sweet scene of violence. If it was rated-R, people could lose limbs, have exploding heads and blood spilling everywhere.
This movie could be the start of something. Whether it be where this film leaves off or prequels with the different gunslingers from other ages. Who knows? But do us all a favor and give us more violence, for Pete’s sake!
Studio: Sony (1 hr. 35 min)
Cast: Idris Elba, Dennis Haysbert, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Katheryn Winnick, Abbey Lee
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Story: A boy teams up with the last known gunslinger to fight the Man in Black.
Final Score: D
This review was first published on Blackflix