We use cinema as a form of escapism from the outside World. Even if the subject matter draws parallels with current affairs, it’s protected by a degree of fictional weight. Through great storytelling and characterisation we can come away from the experience with some level of emotion, good or bad. When that fantasy is stripped away by something that manages to feel as ugly and distasteful as the struggles of the real world, you start to lose all hope. The Last Days of American Crime may fall victim to poor release timing, but that doesn’t excuse the many crimes this movie commits against filmmaking.
As the words ‘Directed by Olivier Megaton’ scrolled across the opening credits, I knew I’d have to lower my expectations. The director responsible for the ‘Taken’ sequels and ‘Transporter 3’ has never quite found his footing in the action genre. Mediocrity is what we have come to expect from the Frenchman at this point and his latest crime thriller holds no exception.
The biggest issue you’ll find with The Last Days of American Crime is that you just won’t care. It’s hollow, dull and bloated mess of a story losses any of its worth within the first 20 minutes. Adapted from a graphic novel series of the same name, set in a near future, dystopian Detroit, where the U.S government are soon to broadcast a signal that blocks the impulse to commit crime. This gives a group of anarchists the perfect opportunity to pull off the heist of the century.
If by sheer luck you’re lured in by it’s already poorly aged, soulless narrative, you’ll likely be pulled out by its preposterous character writing. Each person we meet along the way becomes more animated and further drawn from reality, but in the worst ways possible.
Graham Bricke (Edgar Ramirez) is desperate for this big score, keen to make most of what little time he has left to cause some chaos. He loses his brother to this damaged political system and he’s seeking revenge. He’s quickly joined by a femme fatale hacker known as Shelby (Anna Brewster) and her boyfriend Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt). Shelby is the type of character thats screams bad news from the get-go. There’s always an ulterior motive behind her actions and you lose interest in that very quickly. Kevin is the son of a very wealthy man, though you wouldn’t have guessed based on his appearance. He’s a sleazeball to put it frankly, and prodominantly responsible for the cesspool this latest Netflix original currently sits in.
Standing at an agonising 149 minutes, by the time you finally hit the stage where the movie should really be kicking off, you’re left trying to remind yourself what the whole point of it is. Whenever you get the feeling that the movie is rounding off, you find out it’s merely the beginning of the end. It spends so much of its runtime on exposition, sub-ploting and its loathsome character development that its general theme and main plot structure serves only as a background vehicle.
A painfully sluggish thriller that just happens to have the Netflix brand slapped on it. Some people may argue it’ll be bogged down due to bad timing, especially given its narrative outlook, but Megaton’s latest project was doomed from the moment he signed up to the project. An overly violent, structurally inept misfire that begs you to find a single redeeming quality.