A haggard witch-hunter and an unsuspecting young apprentice face a showdown with a powerful being that has the potential to turn the world dark in the entertaining fantasy drama, Seventh Son.
After many years of answering the call to fight evil, Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is worn down. The last of an ancient line of an elite breed of Witch Hunters, known as “Spooks,” cloaked in a mysterious dark-hooded cape, Gregory has pledged his life to defeating evil and killing as many witches as possible.
On a routine call to exorcise an evil spirit, Gregory comes face to face with an ancient evil that he dispatched long ago, the most powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). In the ensuing battle, Gregory loses his latest apprentice, Billy (Kit Harrington) in the process. Soon, Gregory is off in search of the “seventh son of a seventh son,” which leads him to the door step of a family who possesses such a special young man.
Not content farming pigs all his life, young Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) jumps at the chance to join Gregory. Blessed with the vision of “sight,” Tom sees visions of the future that he doesn’t understand but knows that his destiny lies with the veteran witch hunter. Over the objections of his concerned mother, Mam (Olivia Williams), she tells him that “whatever he needs is already inside of him.”
As the window to defeat Malkin is closing, Gregory puts his latest apprentice through a series of steps to get him ready for an important battle against evil. When the blood moon rises, Malkin and her legion of doom will rise up and turn the world dark. Anxious to see what his young protege is made of, Gregory puts him through a series of tests designed to hone his skills and toughen him up for the impending battle.
Unfortunately, Malkin has a spy tracking their movements, the alluring witch, Alice (Alicia Vikander). Immediately recognizing her from his visions, Tom is instantly attracted to Alice who feels the same way but plays hard to get. She keeps her true motives away from the naive apprentice but is constantly drawn to him throughout the story.
As the moon grows closer, Malkin assembles her evil army including her sister, Bony Lizzie (Antje Traue) and the vicious shape-shifter, Radu (Djimon Hounsou). In an attempt to send a message, Malkin and her crew attack an innocent town protected by a good witch with ties to one of the main characters. Her destruction provides inspiration for the final face-off between forces of the light and darkness.
Based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice (titled The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch in America) by Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son is a predictable yet entertaining take on a familiar story powered by winning performances from two Oscar-nominated performers. Instead of a hokey take on this fantasy story, director Sergei Bodrov (Mongol) delivers a winning tale that is long on cliches and special effects but has enough action and thrills to give the audience their money’s worth.
Barnes, who cut his teeth in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise, looks very comfortable in the role of the reluctant hero, who like so many characters we’ve seen in films before, is destined for greatness even though it is unknown to him. Bodrov even tacks on a love story that doesn’t feel extemporaneous or get in the way of the story.
Despite a rocky start for both Bridges and Moore, neither ONE embarrasses themselves with their participation in this film. While they don’t give a performance that soars, each of them acquits themselves adequately and have nothing to be ashamed of.
Seventh Son is the rare Winter treat, an early February movie that won’t have audiences running out of the theaters feeling as if they have been cheated. This popcorn fantasy thriller may not be an award winner but it is solid, winning entertainment, which is lot more than we can say for most films this time of year!