Mission Briefing:The S.H.I.E.L.D. team is still licking its wounds and laying low in a secret base in the Canadian wilderness run by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/housekeeper/lanyard obsessive Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt). After learning from Ward that HYDRA has released several S.H.I.E.L.D. prisoners from the fridge, Coulson splits up the team in order to track down the dangerous and possibly super-powered threats, one of which has some interesting connections to Coulson's past. Meanwhile, Ward continues his secret mission to decrypt the hard drive and eliminate his former team.
The Agents:Coulson, Fitz, Simmons, and Triplett head out to find Marcus Daniels, a super-powered sociopath with the ability to absorb energy. Meanwhile, May, Skye, Keonig, and Ward hang back at Providence.
Mission Fallout:Ward, fresh from raiding the Fridge with Garrett and the rest of HYDRA, reports that the terrorist organization has gotten their hands on a load of top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. weaponry and has freed all of the prisoners being held at the base. Coulson decides to go after a specific prisoner, Marcus Daniels, who can absorb energy and kill with a single touch. May and Koenig protest against leaving the base, but Coulson demands that the team do as much as they can to protect innocent civilians. Agent Koenig agrees to let a splinter team leave the base, but only if they pass an advanced lie detector test (one that even the Black Widow supposedly couldn't outwit). Each member of the team is individually strapped into the machine and asked a volley of non sequiturs ("What's the difference between a egg and an rock") and other, more pertinent questions, and the ones that pass get an official lanyard from Koenig. When it's Ward's turn, the machine spikes when the agent is asked questions about his loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. Koenig pulls a gun on him, and asks him why he's really there. Ward answer that he's there for Skye, which satisfies the test, and more importantly, Koenig.
Later, Coulson, Simmons, Trip, and a very jealous Fitz leave to find Daniels. Coulson reveals that he was the one that imprisoned Daniels all those years ago, and that the man has an obsession with a cellist in Portland named Audrey (Amy Acker). Triplett and Simmons rescue Audrey from an attack by Daniels and take her to a safe house. The cellist reveals that it was Coulson that originally saved her all those years ago, and that the two were in a romantic relationship before Coulson "died" in the battle of New York. Coulson decides not to tell Audrey that he survived in order to protect her feelings. The team decides to use the cellist as a decoy to lure and capture Daniels. They set up a fake practice session as a trap and blast Daniels with light in order to overload his powers. Coulson manages to kill Daniels, but doesn't reveal himself to Audrey.
Meanwhile, May decides to leave the team after being brushed off one too many times by Coulson. With May gone, Ward moves in on eliminating his former team. He kills Keonig and stashes his body away in a storage room. After doing away with Koenig, Ward tells Skye that he's a bad person and that the two of them are too different to pursue a relationship. Skye reassures Ward that he is a good man and kisses him. Later, Skye finds Koenig's body and deduces that Ward is really a HYDRA agent. Ward, still thinking Skye is oblivious, whisks her away in order to decrypt the hard drive. Coulson returns to Providence with half of his team missing, and the jet gone.
Most Valuable Agent Award:This MVA award this week goes to the dearly departed Agent Koenig. May heaven be filled with awesome Call of Duty sessions and many glorious Lanyards.
Mission Highlights and Other Observations: - "Nothing bad ever happens when you work with something called darkforce..." - Fitz is so lovably flawed. He's pulling far ahead as the best character on the show. - "If I was the grandson of a Howling Commando, I'd have that tattooed on my chest" - Robin Scherbatsky, former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is returning next week.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.