Seven Kings Must Die (2023) Movie Review – The Last Kingdom gets an action-packed, intriguing finale

The Last Kingdom gets an action-packed, intriguing finale

The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die is the epic finale of the Netflix show The Last Kingdom. After 5 seasons of adventure, politics and bloodshed, Uhtred’s story comes to an end in this Netflix original movie thanks to the lead actor and producer Alexander Dreymon.

Based on The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, the film focuses on the last two books of the series as the period of Viking skirmishes end with Aethelstan uniting England under his banner. Familiar faces like Alexander Dreymon, Mark Rowley, Arnas Fedaravicius and Harry Gilby return along with a new cast to kick things up a notch including Laurie Davidson and Pekka Strang. 

Despite the happy ending that we get in The Last Kingdom, it seems that trouble is once again afoot as King Edward dies. His eldest son, Aethelstan is the rightful heir but his claims to the throne are contested by his half-brother Aelfward as Mercia rallies behind him. With Aelfward targeting everyone who may oppose him, their youngest brother Edmund is rushed to Uhtred who has retired from English politics and has a peaceful life in Bebbanburg. 

At the same time, The Danish king Anlaf of Irland decides to create chaos as he thinks the death of a king is the right time for conquest. He reaches out to the five kingdoms surrounding England and proposes a plan of carving up the nation while there is unrest. With Aethelstan making some questionable decisions, Uhtred is forced to step in and help him against the new threats.

TV shows with movie finales have found a clever way to tell a story as seen with Seven Kings Must Die. Since the characters are given time to grow and develop over the last 5 seasons, the movie doesn’t have to spend time on them. There is no need for any exposition which sometimes becomes the source of boredom at the beginning of films. It can directly delve into the action and focus on furthering the plot till we reach the goal of the story. 

And even though it is limited to a relatively shorter duration of a feature film, we still get that same experience of The Last Kingdom in Seven Kings Must Die from trivia that is almost close to historical accuracy making us want to Google all the events and characters, and the blood and action we loved from the show.

The multiple storylines start off confusing but stay true to the show’s structure as the pacing then slows down and links them all into a cohesive plot. It makes it easier for viewers to understand and then enjoy the tubelight moments when they realise how everything is connected whether it is the seven kings’ prophecy or how it is linked to Aethelstan’s tyrant behaviour.

In the first 20 minutes itself, we get political intrigues, manipulation and betrayal that can even hook non-fans in. Those who have never watched the show or read the books can easily watch and understand the film. Despite the little to no introductions since we have 5 seasons worth, the scriptwriters have done a tremendous job of giving us lines and incidents that explain the motives of the characters and the role they play in the story.

Each of their personalities comes through with their actions such as Uhtred being the unintentional kingmaker or Aethelstan as the naive king whose heart is in the right place. Even the new character of Ingilmundr is an interesting addition as it seems that he is trying to rule through Aethelstan. But even there we have plot twists as his actions constantly have viewers questioning his loyalty.

All in all, Seven Kings Must Die is a fun finale to a story that spanned the last few years giving fans a satisfying closure. Along with it being your usual historical action film, it put out some questions on the idea of religion being used as a political tool, repressed sexuality and respect for other religions.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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