You’re only going to get one kind of film when your director’s name is Olivier Megaton. Transporter 3, two Taken sequels and now this. The Last Days of American Crime does the worst thing any film can do – take an interesting premise and butcher it into a gaping flesh wound meant to qualify as entertainment.
In the near future, a signal is about to be launched by the US Government that will prevent all citizens from committing crime. Before this happens, one-note tough man Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) teams up with a cocky gangster’s son (Michael Pitt) and his fiancée Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster) to pull off one last heist before the signal goes live. It’s an interesting concept, but this dark future has little to say about the present, and instead feels sorely locked in the past.
Last Days’ dystopian sleaze commits awful missteps. Even if you leave aside the death of George Floyd and the protests that have subsequently swept America, the depictions of police brutality leave a foul taste in the mouth. Sharlto Copley’s character choking Brewster for no apparent reason during a fight is especially distasteful – and a sad takeaway from Copley’s character, who doesn’t get the arc he deserves. While the topic of police abolition is touched upon, it is seen as the end result of state manipulation rather than progressive social change. This police state is littered with female characters who are only ever victims, and some senseless, predictable dialogue that sinks the entire experience. From its representation to its gratuitous violence, Last Days is simply dire.
You would hope that the core principles of an action film could save this crime thriller in the same way that Extraction’s execution saved it from mediocrity. But it can’t. The best set pieces still lack the vicious intensity needed to make the film tick. The central characters have little chemistry, with an early sex scene set to a god awful remix of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ playing like a cheaply shot music video. Only Pitt has a role worth remembering, with early Christopher Walken coming to mind as he skits and curses his way round the story. Everything just feels like an inadequate excuse for what could have been.
Too much seems confused, too little feels like it matters. The at times impressive set design is little more than a testimony to the fact that details are only skin deep. This lack of thought or purpose is what curses this film. Out of touch, brainless and with no idea of how to shoot a good action film, Megaton’s film takes a criminal two and a half hours to reach the highlight… the end credits.
The Last Days of American Crime is streaming on Netflix.