Rated 1.0

Gen. Lew Wallace’s venerable novel takes a vicious beating in this fourth film version, with one of the worst screenplays ever written in English (by Keith R. Clarke and John Ridley, grown men who should have known better); a director, Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer) who hasn’t made a good movie yet and evidently doesn’t know how; a hero (Jack Huston) with very little trace of the screen presence that runs through his famous family; and a villain (Toby Kebbell) who appears equally destined for oblivion. (Morgan Freeman, as an Arab horse-breeder changed to an African because, well, they got Morgan Freeman, blows them both off the screen just by showing up.) The story is shredded to the bare bones, then the bones picked clean of drama and common sense. Even the chariot race is ho-hum. J.L.