The Last Days of American Crime

Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

The Last Days of American Crime
dir Olivier Megaton
scr Karl Gajdusek
prd Jesse Berger, Jason Michael Berman, Barry Levine
with Edgar Ramirez, Michael Carmen Pitt, Anna Brewster, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Bergin, Lionel Newton, Tamer Burjaq, Brandon Auret, Terence Maynard, James Richard Marshall, Johann Vermaak, Daniel Fox
release US/UK 5.Jun.20
20/US Netflix 2h28

ramirez copley bergin

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pitt, ramirez and brewster
Bombastic and barely coherent, this violent epic is based on a graphic novel, which gives it a certain swagger. But director Olivier Megaton's sledgehammer approach obliterates nuance, leaving the film overserious, overblown and not nearly as cool as he clearly thinks it is. This nonstop barrage of bigotry and stupidity might be interesting if it dealt with these things, made some logical sense or offered one reason to care.
The American Peace Initiative takes effect in a week, broadcasting a signal that suppresses all urges to break the law, although cops can get a chip to neutralise it. Meanwhile, criminal thug Bricke (Ramirez) learns that his brother (Fox) didn't actually commit suicide in prison: he was killed in an API experiment. Ex-con Cash (Pitt) and his hacker fiancee Shelby (Brewster) have an elaborate plan to get revenge, stealing a massive stash of cash and escaping to Canada before API is implemented. And trigger-happy cop Sawyer (Copley) is on a collision course with them.
It's impossible to count the holes in the premise, as each inexplicable plot point leads to something even more absurd. Gajdusek's script revels in lawbreaking, subverting justice and massacring anyone who gets in the way. There are no good guys, because the protagonists are murderers, and police are even worse. Everyone is determined to kill everyone else, and you can't blame them. Still, Megaton keeps everything moving, so even quieter moments feel loud. At least this approach oozes attitude, with colourful settings and explosions that will make Michael Bay jealous.

Ramirez, Pitt and Copley are much better actors than the material, so they at least try to invest scenes with some subtext. But the dim plot and Megaton's misogynistic direction continually undercut them (Copley is badly sidelined). Brewster's role should be more interesting than it is: a smart woman who seduces both men and is playing everyone against each other. But the filmmakers are plainly uninterested in her aside from the way she looks in her underwear.

Pretty much everything about this film feels seriously ill-timed to the current zeitgeist, from the rampant police brutality to grotesque sexual abuse. There's a solid 90-minute gritty thriller in here, with some compelling ideas about morality, abuse of power and governmental overreach. Instead, this is mindless, hyperviolent action porn, bloated with inane complications. And since the chases and shootouts are so choppy, even fans of dumb thrillers will struggle to stick with this one.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality 6.Jun.20

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