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Film Review: The Last Days of American Crime

9 June 20 words: Charlie and George Alexander

Netflix’s new dystopian caper is another flop amidst a slew of hit-or-miss original films...

Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Anna Brewster, Michael Pitt
Running time: 148 minutes

Netflix’s latest instalment is Olivier Megaton’s Last Days of American Crime. Posed as a heist movie with a dystopian twist, what follows is a painstakingly senseless shambles of an action flick. Set in the near future, crime and disorder is rife on the streets of America. The US government is to transmit the “API” signal to painfully incapacitate the human brain, making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit crimes; an ambitious hook which has the potential for a thrilling take on the “individual versus the state” scenario. However, the film’s nonsensical and brainless execution unintentionally allows the viewer to experience, first-hand, what this mind-numbing signal may feel like. 

We begin the story with our hero, Bricke (Edgar Ramirez). The “void-of-emotion strongman” is a well-worn Hollywood trope and although this does prohibit any sense of emotional involvement, he is weakened more through being an unbearable bore. How do you expect an audience to pledge their support for a hero whose only character development is that his breathing gets heavier as the story progresses? Bricke provides no more interest than his building-block namesake.

The void of any notable intelligence is striking

In essence, when isolating the story as a whole, it holds potential to be a compelling and fresh take on the heist sub-genre. With the source material coming from Rick Rememder, whose Marvel background explains the narrative use of an oppressive threat against the freedom of mankind. However, director Olivier Megaton’s frivolous and bleary focus on sex, murder and cars results in the plot’s potential dwindling. The API signal becomes secondary - only occasionally are we reminded of its significance when being discussed by news-anchors and the odd federal bureaucrat. With his history of Transporter 3 and Taken 2, it is as though Megaton had no interest in the central crux of the source material.

Even the central basis of the heist is neglected; trivialised by an incessant need for futile humour. We watch awaiting a grand plan as Michael Pitts’ character Kevin Cash hurls a map onto a table, providing a slight glimpse of returning to the traditional, nuts-and-bolts heist genre. Yet, the conversation regresses to discuss Kevin’s Armani suit; a screaming example of the tediously banal and infantile screenplay. The character of Kevin is mesmerising for all the wrong reasons; Pitts delivers an incoherent shambles of flamboyance and rage which is never well articulated. 

When viewed with a pre-empted awareness of its absurdity, Last Days of American Crime can, at best, be straightened out as enjoyable chaos. Remarkably, the 149-minute runtime passes by at a pleasant speed. However, the film wants to take itself seriously and this lack of self-awareness prevents it from being accepted as a one dimensional, but solid action thrill ride. The void of any notable intelligence is striking; appealing to our most immature senses through offering heartless sex, thoughtless murder and cringe-worthy punchlines. Elementary and starkly undeveloped caricatures combined with the dumbfounding narrative results in a cluttered mess of a film.

Did you know? The film currently holds a rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Last Days of American Crime is now available on Netflix

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