The summer of “ENOUGH already” continues at the cinema with the arrival of the fifth “Transformers” movie. The cars are upgraded to AMGs, Astons and Lambos, and all those kids you’re tempted to take to it learn how funny using the word “shi-” is, in pretty much any situation.
“The Last Knight” is easily the worst installment in this endlessly awful series, probably the worst movie of the summer (“Cars 3,” you’re OFF the hook), a garbled action-and-edit-packed mess that bastardizes history and legend, defies coherence and proves that Anthony Hopkins will do anything for one last big, bad check.
The “satisfaction” of packing a mini “Big Lebowski” reunion — John Turturro, joined by the robot voices of John Goodman and Steve Buscemi — only makes you remember that Jeff Bridges has too much sense for this, and that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s the lucky one. He died before the temptation to take a payday picture could be floated his way.
Because this is Michael Bay’s “Inferno,” an action hack sentenced to the hell that these enterprises have become, addicted to the money when he might have, one day, redeemed himself with some violent, foul-mouthed buddy picture (“Pain & Gain” was as good as he will ever get).
The prologue makes the Knights of the Round Table a literal fact, embattled Britons “saved” when Arthur’s magician pal Merlin (an unrecognizable, but half-funny Stanley Tucci) summons a metallic dragon to fend off Saxon hordes.
The Transformers, with their XXXXL size, alien tech and willingness to “help,” have always been with us — crashing their ships, fiddling in Earth’s little affairs — like World War I.
Having Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager quote sci-fi icon Arthur C. Clarke — “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — may be the funniest thing any of these movies have demanded of him.
Cade is a fugitive, wanted by the Decepticons, hunted by the TRF (Transformer Reaction Fo—oh never mind). He hides out in “alien contamination zones,” defending the Autobots from TRF’s “Kill’em all, let God sort’em out” ethos. That throws him in with the Transformer-loving potty-mouthed 14 year old-gadget guru, Izabella (Isabel Moner).
And being hunted by Josh Duhamel and a bunch of actors whose names nobody can remember eventually runs them from the devastation of New Jersey to the vast junkyard of South Dakota, and on to Jolly Olde Brexitland, where Hopkins plays the last member of an order of knights sworn to keep the Secret History of the Transformers on Earth a secret.
Say what now? I mean, I get the Mongol Hordes reference, but since when were these transforming gadget-bots “secret?”
Laura Haddock inherits the push-up bra role, this time a historian and blood relative of the Order who must help a “chosen one” (Guess who that is?) use a talisman to track down the Staff of Merlin, actually an ancient Autobot weapon.
Optimus Prime goes home (to Cybertron, his planet) and goes rogue, thanks to indoctrination by a villain named Quintessa, as in “The Quintessence of Evil.”
And all the cute robots, including a C3PO knock-off butler-bot voiced by Jim Carter, no longer a butler at “Downton Abbey,” show up, fight and cuss each other out in robot trash talk, as Duhamel and his drone-and-Osprey-equipped TRF team shout “Come ON, let’s GO, ” hurtling us from Namibia to China, South Dakota to the White Cliffs of Dover.
Three credited screenwriters came up with graceful exposition — “You got my message — You brought everyone here.” — and zippy one-liners.
“It’s OK to be a kid, Lil’ J. Lo.” “A big gun makes a big man.”
Hopkins vamps it up, and utters “Has my life been wasted?”
We’d never thought so, before now.
In all seriousness, this is barely-coherent, not-worth-a-brain-cell-of-analysis garbage. And if there’s a sixth movie in this toys-to-theaters fiasco of a franchise, it’s on your heads.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Isabella Monerp
Credits: Directed by Michael Bay, written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan. A Paramount.
Running time: 2:25