The Reel Review


This historical drama is about the events leading up to a bloody and violent duel between two former friends in the late 1300s medieval France – one of the last legally sanctioned trials by duel. Starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck and written by Affleck, Damon and Nicole Holofcener (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), it is based on Eric Jager’s 2004 novel, The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France.

Jodie Comer and Matt Damon in The Last Duel.

Using three chapters, director Ridley Scott (The Martian, Alien) deftly captures each of the three main characters’ contradictory perceptions of the chain of events, Rashomonstyle, leading to the climactic duel between the former friends, Knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Driver). The period costuming and set design is absolutely top notch, hampered only by an overlong, two-and-a-half-hour runtime and a more cartoonish portrait of the district’s overlord by Affleck, which distracts from the film’s more somber, melodramatic tone.

Adam Driver and Matt Damon in The Last Duel.

Even so, The Last Duel is an excellent, strongly acted film. The subtle but significant nuances in the conflicting stories requires full attention from the viewer, but those willing to invest their focus (and time) will be rewarded with an epic, violently satisfying finalé to this true-life medieval tale.


• Originally Ben Affleck was to have Adam Driver’s part in The Last Duel, which experienced a months-long halt in production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four months after production wrapped, Driver starred in Ridley’s next project, House of Gucci

• Director Ridley Scott squarely blamed the film’s poor box office performance on cell phone-addicted millennials “who do not ever want to be taught anything unless you told it on the cell phone.”

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon winning their Best Original Screenplay Oscars for 1997’s Good Will Hunting. The film’s star Robin Williams also won for Best Actor.

The Last Duel was a writing, acting and producing reunion for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who made history as the two youngest winners of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 1997’s Good Will Hunting, at ages 25 (Affleck) and 27 (Damon).


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