The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is a 2017 American science fantasy western film directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel. A continuation of Stephen King’s novel series of the same name, the film stars Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, a gunslinger on a quest to protect the Dark Tower—a mythical structure which supports all realities—while Matthew McConaughey plays his nemesis, Walter Padick, the Man in Black, and Tom Taylor stars as Jake Chambers, a New York boy who becomes Roland’s apprentice. Claudia Kim, Katheryn Winnick & Dennis Haysbert also star in the film.

I rarely find a Stephen King adaptation that I found boring but this one was for a long time. Jake Chambers has visions of a Dark Tower and a man in black who seeks to destroy it and bring ruin to the Universe. In alternate universe over the decades, has been abducting psychic children, and is attempting to use their “shine” to bring down the Dark Tower, a fabled structure located at the center of the Universe; this will allow beings from the darkness outside to invade and destroy reality. At his apartment home in New York City, a group of workers from an alleged psychiatric facility offer to rehabilitate Jake; recognizing them from his visions as monsters wearing human skin, he flees. Jake tracks down an abandoned house from one of his visions, discovers a high-tech portal, and travels to a post-apocalyptic world called Mid-World.

In Mid-World, Jake encounters the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain who emerged in his visions. Roland is pursuing Walter Padick, the Man in Black who had also appeared in Jake’s dreams, across a desert, seeking to kill him in revenge for the murder of his father, Steven, and all remaining gunslingers. Roland takes Jake to a village to have his visions interpreted by a seer. Learning of Jake’s escape and journey to Mid-World, Walter investigates and discovers from his minion Sayre that Jake has “pure Shine”, i.e. enough psychic potential to destroy the Tower single-handedly. He kills Jake’s stepfather, then interrogates his mother about his visions and kills her too. In Mid-World, the seer explains that Roland can find Walter’s base of operations in New York. Walter’s minions, the Taheen, attack the village, but Roland individually kills each of them.

Roland and Jake return to Earth. When Jake returns home to check in on his mother, he finds her charred remains and breaks down. Roland vows to kill Walter “for both of us” and comforts Jake by teaching him the Gunslinger’s Creed, which he hasn’t uttered since his own father’s death, as well as the basics of gun fighting. Roland is attacked by Walter, who captures Jake. At his base, he straps Jake to a machine that will use him to destroy the Tower. Jake uses his psychic powers to alert Roland to his location, and Roland battles his way through Walter’s henchmen. Walter confronts Roland, wounding him. After Jake reminds him of the Gunslinger’s Creed, Roland recovers and kills Walter with a trick shot after a brief fight. Roland destroys the machine, saving the Tower, Jake, and the other children.

Afterwards, Roland says that he must return to his own world and offers Jake a place by his side as his companion. Jake accepts the offer as he has nowhere else to go, and the two depart for Mid-World. It is a mess to be frank; a rushed movie that doesn’t really tell a story and should have taken it’s own time to build the universes and the characters. The actors are hindered by the shorter running time and the fact that Stephen King’s book series is pretty lengthy and elaborate; it just doesn’t work. 6 outta 10!

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