The Last Days of American Crime
- Emma Simmonds
- 8 June 2020
Lacklustre graphic novel adaptation from Olivier Megaton that unfolds over a dispiritingly long runtime
Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini's graphic novel is brought lengthily and underwhelmingly to the screen by sequels specialist Olivier Megaton (Taken 2 and 3, Transporter 3). Set in a dystopian near-future, The Last Days of American Crime is no Mad Max. And, while it offers a high-concept premise a la The Purge, it hasn't a fraction of that film's menace, nor the sense to keep its story lean.
Édgar Ramírez merely looks the part as Graham Bricke, a grizzled bruiser of a bank robber, grieving for his recently imprisoned brother and dodging the wrath of the powerful Dumois crime family, of which he has fallen foul. In a sci-fi-esque twist, Bricke and co are soon to be put out of business by a government-developed signal which acts as a synaptic blocker and promises to thwart illegal activity on a countrywide scale.
Shortly after learning of his brother's demise, Bricke meets Shelby (British actress Anna Brewster), an almost laughably mysterious femme fatale who's also an incredible hacker. Hot on Shelby's tail is her shifty fiancé Kevin (Michael Pitt), who lures Bricke into his plan for a hugely lucrative robbery which involves disrupting the soon-to-be-triggered signal and cleaning out a state vault, for what could be the last crime in American history.
The film feels cheaply cast – for all its firepower it's figuratively lacking in big guns. Although Boardwalk Empire alumnus Pitt brings some character to his portrayal of Kevin, he's not well flanked, as unrecognisable and unremarkable actors abound. Emerging from the mouths of this ensemble, the pulpy, often gnomic dialogue hasn't a hope. Wearing the sour expression of a man who may have got wind mid-shoot of the film's folly, Ramírez is a leaden lead with a gaping hole where his character's personality should be. And if Patrick Bergin appears briefly as Daddy Dumois, he brings about the same clout he recently brought to EastEnders, for some sub-soap opera, ultra-violent family feuding.
Coming in at nearly two and a half hours, the inexplicably epic runtime has a major impact on what should be built-in tension, as the film diverts from its well-conceived premise through a series of formulaic face-offs and predictable betrayals, adding dodgy FBI guys and a tenacious cop (uncharacteristically bland work from Sharlto Copley) to the mix without having the decency to make anyone interesting. While the scant social commentary that does feature, in the form of background news reports, has zero impact.
In some of its larger-than-life baddies and broad strokes The Last Days of American Crime can feel comic book-esque. Shot with sporadic flair by Daniel Aranyó and featuring a dusting of acceptable action, its style can't disguise the deficiencies in characterisation and plot in a slog of a film that's sometimes brazenly dumb but seldom in a way that feels any fun.
Available to watch now on Netflix.