Monday, June 8, 2020

The Last Days of American Crime (2020)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: The Last Days of American Crime (2020)
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Length: 148 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Radical Studios, Mandalay Pictures, Radical Pictures, Netflix
Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer: Karl Gajdusek, Rick Remender, Greg Tocchini
Actors: Neels Clasen, Edgar Ramirez, Tony Caprari, Norman Anstey, Brandon Auret, Daniel Fox, Sean Cameron Michael, Nathan Lynn, Tamer Burjaq, Jonathan Pienaar, Anna Brewster, Michael Pitt, Sharlto Copley, James Richard Marshall, Terence Maynard, Tiyler Kriel, Leandie du Randt, Patrick Bergin

Blurb from IMDb: In the not-too-distant future, as a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts.

Selina’s Point of View:
The Last Days of American Crime caught my attention initially because of the dystopian/heist hybrid-genre. I was looking forward to seeing how the two, usually very separate, genres would work together. I’m a huge fan of dystopian stories and I can usually get behind a good heist. So, I figured, it could be a great combination.

Having seen the film, I can tell you what I forgot.

In dystopian stories, world building is absolutely essential. Creators need to get their audience to understand what the unfamiliar world in the film is all about. In some cases, you even need to know how it got to that point for the story to hit right. In the Hunger Games (2012-2015), we know that the districts rebelled against the capital and the capital saw it as a failure of control, so they put a firmer strangle-hold on the districts as they moved forward. In Snowpiercer (2013), we know that there came an ice age and that humanity was condemned to live on a train in order to survive. So they were settled into the locomotive according to caste. With Tank Girl (1995), we know that a comet struck Earth causing a massive drought.

In each case of a successful dystopian story the environment and settings are the most important aspects to develop. The world in that genre is completely foreign to us, so we need to know the ‘whys.‘

Now, a heist film is the complete opposite. We don’t need to understand the world. It’s our world. We know the specifics. Thievery is illegal. Cops will be called. Stakes include jail and possible bodily harm from officers trying to apprehend the main characters. We don’t need a rehash on that. What we need is to care about the characters most of all.

What sets heist movies apart from each other is how much we care about what happens to the characters. In Ocean’s Eleven (2001), the characters are charismatic and we learn a bit about what brought them there, how they’re interwoven. In The Fast and the Furious (2001), we learn so much about the characters that we accept the undercover cop changing sides because it feels natural.

Trying to combine the two genres is difficult, because there’s NO room for error. Where a heist film could let the setting speak for itself and a dystopian story can just let the characters react to the setting, a combo of the two needs to be 100% on top of things from both areas.

I don’t really feel like this film shined in either aspect. We wound up with depthless characters because they needed to spend so much time on trying to show the setting, but they spent so much time on the way the characters interacted with each other, that they didn’t really succeed in showing us why the world was the way it was.

In the end, we wound up with a very long movie that felt like it took an eternity to get started. When it did finally get to a good part, it wasn’t enough to make me forget how long it took to get there. I mean, the actual heist and the ending was pretty well done, but I didn’t care about the characters or the setting by that time in the film. I just didn’t.

Cat’s Point of View:
Summer is knocking on the door of the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s usually the season for action blockbusters. In this crazy time, I’ve been wondering what might change with this year. Can I tell you how excited I’ve been that drive-in movies are making a comeback? My own preference is that they never really should have gone away… but I digress.

My point is that The Last Days of American Crime, as a Netflix Original, didn’t require a big screen and yet it made a solid impact as a respectable summer action movie. Here’s to hoping that this ball keeps rolling with strong releases.

This film was unsettling.

At its core, the movie was a well-executed and grimy heist flick. The cast was strong with well-known actors such as Edgar Ramírez (Point Break, Joy, Bright) and Sharlto Copley (Open Grave, Free Fire, Gringo) onboard. There were also relatively fresh faces among the key players. Anna Brewster (The Reeds, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Versailles) and Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths, Ghost in the Shell, Run With the Hunted) were most notable among those.

There’s a little bit of everything you’d expect with an action-crime thriller – enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and wondering if the main characters are really going to make it or not.

At the same time, there’s an undercurrent of dread that amplifies everything else as a countdown clock ticks away steadily in the background.

The timing of this movie is uncanny, as the world joins sanitized hands in protest against police brutality. The Last Days of American Crime’s plot touts a signal that can inhibit people from committing acts that they know would be law-breaking. What would happen if the police force could get around that? The film does a pretty good job in illustrating how scary that actually is – if real-world actions hadn’t already given us a preview of the frightening things that could happen.

There are a few loose threads in the plot – mostly involving the nebulous references to money. If that was more adequately explained, I may have missed it. I was generally inwardly reeling from the concept of the signal and how horrifyingly bad that would be.

The perspective of a ‘good cop’ doing his best within the system was a subtle but important element in the plot as well. What happens when even a ‘good guy’ gets pushed too far in this film’s new world order? Copely was amazing bringing that element to life.

I would certainly give this one a recommendation as both an excellent cautionary tale and also good old-fashioned action entertainment. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 0%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 24%
Metascore – 16/100
Metacritic User Score – 2.3/10
IMDB Score – 3.8/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer:

No comments:

Post a Comment