The Last Days of American Crime and all the images you see in this review are owned by Netflix
Directed by Olivier Megaton
With the world descending into righteous fury at the systems that have failed them for generations, there hasn’t been a whole lot of film news out there that has kept me on a regular routine which will certainly be a lurch if things DO ever get back to normal and they finally start releasing those movies we were supposed to get months ago. The only thing I’ve seen AT ALL about film in the last week or so (besides the Bill and Ted trailer which dropped the day I’m writing this) is some movie on Netflix getting the coveted ZERO PERCENT ON ROTTEN TOMATOES award, so here we are I guess; I’m gonna waste my time watching a movie that everyone already knows is terrible and it’s somehow going to be the most productive thing I’ve done since I, a grown-ass man, vomited up two thousand words telling you why the Scooby-Doo movie wasn’t very good. Can this movie with a very unwieldy title at least be better than THAT movie; especially since this has the edge of NOT charging you an arm and a leg to see it? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows a man named Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) who certainly acts like such as he joylessly and emotionlessly goes from one horrific violent crime to another in what I can only assume is a near-future Michigan that’s about three months and a few missed orders from Deer Park from turning into a Mad Max hellscape. Things are about to be changed for the better, at least as far as the government is concerned, as they’ve developed a SUPER SCIENCE MIND CONTROL SIGNAL that will prevent anyone from knowingly committing a crime which I’m quite certain is what those 5G conspiracy theorists believe is actually going to happen. In any case, the people in this movie haven’t figured out how tin foil hats work and so they’ve resigned themselves to losing their free will; at least in the United States. Canada hasn’t developed a MIND CONTROL RAY and so the border has become fully militarized as people get shot to pieces trying to cross; all of which sounds like the filmmakers are trying to make a point but darned if I can find out what the heck this movie is trying to say! Bottom line is, Bricke gets recruited by some dude named Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt) for one last heist to steal a whole bunch of money from a government vault in the city before booking it for the Canadian border mere minutes before the government turns on their MIND CONTROL RAY and who have helpfully provided everyone with a countdown clock to the second as to when that will happen. Joining the crew is Cash’s girlfriend Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster) who may or may not be the brains of this operation, and throw into that a conspiracy involving the death of Bricke’s brother to make a perfect storm of bad planning and bad timing for this heist that has to go off without a hitch! Can Bricke outrun his own past and set himself up for a nifty little retirement in the land of hockey and poutine? Does Cash have an ulterior motive to all of this that could get in the way of Bricke’s meticulous professionalism and throw this whole operation into chaos? If you were going to follow anyone into a ridiculously convoluted heist, would it REALLY be a guy who looks like an off-brand Jason Mewes?
Right off the bat it was clear this movie wasn’t going to be good. Maybe not TERRIBLE, but certainly about what you’d expect from a VOD release or an under-marketed Netflix film, but then the words BASED ON A GRAPHIC NOVEL flashed up on screen and it all started to fall apart as my dawning realization as to what this movie coincided with its steep descent into distasteful nonsense. This is a low brow adaptation of one of THOSE graphic novels; the kind that’s angry, hateful, and smug at the same time as it believes it’s trying to make a dangerous point when all its doing is airing out Pablum grievances while upholding the status quo of whose stories get to be told no matter how they are at telling it. If you’ve ever forced yourself to suffer through crap like Oxymoron, The Pro, or Wanted, then you’ve got an idea of what this movie is trying to be, and to make it a tedious two and half hour low rent action movie slog on top of it is just the icing on the cake.
The big problem with this movie written in bright neon colors is the narrative which is utter gibberish from beginning to end. I could spend half this review interrogating the central premise, but that would frankly be a waste of time as the whole thing is obviously absurd right on its face and you could reasonably argue that the mechanics of a high concept premise is secondary to the message it’s trying to impart. After all, the premise of The Purge films is only somewhat less ridiculous but the sequels did such a fantastic job telling a story and constructing a world within it that you hardly even notice. The problem here though is that there is no coherent message as it’s just as muddled as everything else in this movie. We get flashes here and there of what rich people are doing and MAYBE there are one or two concepts that kind of nifty like the fact that the government is buying back stolen money give people LEGAL money since the stolen money can’t be used in a “crime-free” world, but it never commits to anything beyond its own regressive views of what’s BADASS and HIP WITH THE YOUNGSTERS. Is there a market for overblown machismo and nihilistic excess with a paper-thin veneer of social commentary? Well if the dank and bottomless pits of Reddit and 4CHAN forums is anything to go by then I guess you could say so, but it all just seems so passé and dreary when movies with a fraction of its angst and presumably a fraction of its budget. I don’t know how much this movie costs, but Sorry to Bother You certainly didn’t have Netflix money to throw around.
If the film’s ideas and attitude are from a decade ago, then the filmmaking is at least three because this is one BORING movie to sit through! I’m sure most of this can be blamed on the source material, but the thing about adaptation is that you have to do at least SOME things differently to keep paced well for the new medium, but sadly the director Taken 3 who took a baker’s dozen of cuts to have Liam Neeson climb a fence, didn’t get that memo and so everything is tortuously drawn out with dialogue so bad that it sounds like it was lifted word for word from the pages of a subpar comic book; going so far as to pepper the first act with narration because I guess there was no better way to translate all the exposition. Even the sex and violence which I’m sure was half the reason anyone thought to make this into a movie is mediocre and stifling. The violence is… fine I suppose, but with so many options out there it just doesn’t stand out or is even shot well enough to truly enjoy it. Sex on the other hand is VERY notably bad, and it’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen two bumping uglies look so… well, ugly, but sure enough this movie manages to pull THAT off as well! Stern faced, fully clothed, barely any thrusting or intimacy, I don’t know how they could come off any worse. The gender politics of this movie are also dreadful (yeah, scream SNOWFLAKE as much as you want through your tear-stained pillows; I’m gonna talk about it) which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering how the rest of the movie turned out. It’s straight of the Frank Miller School of female character development which involves beating the hell out of them, making them sexually available, and under the thumb of BAD men to be duplicitous against the RIGHTEOUS men. Perhaps the most sickening and backward moment in the entire movie is one of its most hack where Anna Brewster is about to be raped by a bad guy only to be saved by the Édgar Ramírez slitting his throat when he’s on top of her. It’s just bad filmmaking across the board and it only makes the tedious dreck it’s trying to present to us (not shocking or offensive; just tedious) that much more unbearable to sit through.
If you held me down and told me that I had to say something nice about this movie, I’d say that while the third act isn’t great, it does drop a lot of the less savory pretensions to become a somewhat passable waste of time. The film has a gross yellow filter over everything that makes it look greasy, but that’s pretty much gone for the heist which takes place at night. The film has a subplot about cops and civil unrest that couldn’t possibly have come at a worse time, but the movie kind of forgets to do anything with it so it’s unceremoniously dropped during the climax. The acting is pretty terrible all around with the possible exception of Michael Pitt who’s at least EMBRACING the garbage he’s working with, but with the focus on action and the stripping away of everything else in the narrative, Édgar Ramírez manages to fill the role of an action badass well enough. I’m loath to give them credit for simply becoming less of an obnoxious mess (if you beat me around the head with a baseball bat for two hours I’m not about to give you praise for doing it more softly because your arms are getting tired) but it does come together in a sense and can be enjoyed for that brief twenty-minute window. Now all you have to do is sit through the other two hours of crap to get to it!
Maybe comparing EVERY movie to the overwhelming catalog of streaming, VOD, and good ol’ fashioned YouTube content in the world is a bit unfair, but for the life of me I can’t imagine ANY reason to watch this movie over basically anything else on Netflix. You want dark and gritty content? Hannibal just got added. You want comic book violence outside of the Disney formula? I’m pretty sure most of us haven’t finished those Netflix Marvel shows and aside from that The Umbrella Academy is on there and has decent reviews! Heck, I’d take BRIGHT over this, which until now was the low point of Netflix’s penchant for throwing money around at anything vaguely marketable. Try to find as small a niche as you want; you’re not gonna find one where this isn’t close to the bottom of the list and its soul-crushing length even makes it a bad choice for a Bad Movie Night. It’s a movie that simply exists to fill another spot in the catalog and it’s only notable feature is bad timing. Let this one sink to the bottom of the algorithm like half of Netflix’s other productions. Did you know they did a series about The Romanov family? Of course you don’t; and in a few weeks’ time, you’ll forget they made this film as well!