A Polish-language Netflix Original movie, Mr. Car and the Knights Templar is an action-adventure movie in the vein of Indians Jones with a little bit of The Goonies that doesn’t successfully capture the essence of what makes either kind of movie so successful. Directed by Antoni Nykowski, our tale finds renowned treasure hunter Tomasz (Mateusz Janicki) on the hunt for a long-lost treasure by way of a Templar cross whose inscription will point the way. But a host of other treasure hunters stand in the way. Also, a group of runaway scouts teams up with Tomasz and the others.
More than anything, Mr. Car and the Knights Templar is just confusing. The movie starts off strong with a fun action sequence between Tomasz and the villain Adios (Jacek Beler) fighting to wrest the Templar’s cross from one another. It’s a good opening with some fun choreography, a cool location in a lighthouse, and a great escape in Tomasz’s cool titular car. But as soon as Tomasz is back giving a press conference about his finding the cross, he turns into a full big-headed jerk who very clearly cares about nothing other than finding treasure. He’s not suave. He’s not charming. He’s not even all that clever. He’s just got some mysterious matron organizing his treasure hunts and somewhat of an apparent knack for the profession.
He’s absolutely no Indiana Jones. The obvious progenitor of Tomasz’s character, the only reason Indie even works as a character is because no matter how much of a fool he can be sometimes, he’s ultimately both very cool and very smooth. Tomasz is neither. He’s just a jerk, seemingly. And evidently, he continuously blows off the people who try to help him in both physical and intellectual situations.
So the main character is lame, but perhaps the kids are alright? Maybe we’ve got a little Goonies pastiche on our hands? No, Mr. Car and the Knights Templar is far from that either. The kids herein are fine, they’re not annoying or anything, but they’re not especially charming or anything either. You’ve got an orphan, a fat nerd, and a girl. Totally stereotypical to the point of nearly being offensive. But it’s not like any of them are all that impressive puzzle solvers or funny additions to the crew or anything. They just act as fodder to soften up “Mr. Car’s” disposition, named as such because he’s “as emotionless as the car he loves so much.” Spoiler alert, the car isn’t exactly that special of a character either, with one cool trick up its sleeve in the opening sequence and then little else to go by from then on.
The villains and side characters are just as confusing. Adios does a fine job as a one-dimensional villain whose backstory confused me the whole way through. But the rival treasure hunter Karen (Maria Debska) is hard to distinguish from friend or foe and the hard-hitting journalist Anka (Sandra Drzymalska) is bogged down by an odd backstory that seems to service only one single scene midway through the movie. At least that one sword fight is, by far, the coolest part of the movie and instantly made her the only cool character in the whole affair. It’s just not good movie-making to have your one-dimensional love interest far and away cooler than your hero. I couldn’t even tell if he was the hero or another villain for the first half hour of the movie because of how not-cool Tomasz is.
Worse than everything else is that the adventure itself is far from captivating either. It’s based on a convoluted tale of Knights Templar and their contemporaries that is introduced as if every person watching should instantly know who Jacques de Molay was and what the Crusades were. It’s too detailed while still not detailed enough. And when the adventure itself does roll on, it’s delivered through a baffling vehicle with an even more baffling, out-of-left-field conclusion. Individual scenes make sense on their own, but every time I stopped to think about what was actually going on I was dumbstruck. It’s not good. It’s barely fun and it’s simply confusing for most of the way through.
Mr. Car and the Knights Templar is disappointingly confusing and barely worth the effort to watch. Its characters are not endearing in the slightest and the adventure they go on is quite hard to follow.
Mr. Car and the Knights Templar is streaming now on Netflix.
Mr. Car and the Knights Templar
Mr. Car and the Knights Templar is disappointingly confusing and barely worth the effort. Its characters are not endearing in the slightest and the adventure they go on is quite hard to follow.