The Last Victim

  • Directed and Produced by Naveen A Chathapuram (Directorial Debut)
  • September 16, 2021 (Oldenburg International Film Festival) / May 13, 2022 (US)

A group of criminals is pursued by a local sheriff when a crime goes wrong.

Any Western made today frightens me. Too often they are far from good and the creators seem to believe you can only get drama from everybody in the movie being terrible and thus the movie itself because terrible. While I cannot call this great, it is not the worst I have come across mostly because not everyone here is terrible.

The Last Victim is a modern Western that leans heavily into survival yarn territory with our main female character of Susan (Ali Larter) struggling to escape a group of criminals attempting to eliminate all witnesses to their latest crime. What is that crime? Murder. But why did they commit THAT murder? I’m not sure anymore.

Ron Perlman plays yet another grizzled jerk in this movie as local Sheriff Herman Hickey who takes many of his character cues from Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water. I’m not saying Perlman playing a grizzled jerk again is a bad thing. He plays them fantastically and with just minor adjustments can make them either unlikable or, as here, strangely charming. He is an asshole you WILL like.

Sheriff Hickey is paired with Deputy Gaboon (Camille Legg) for much of the story whose last name he pronounces as ‘Gay Bone’ like an eight-year-old would having learned a bad word. It’s actually a rather funny and humorous relationship until it isn’t but more on that later.

Jake (Ralph Ineson), the film’s nemesis, is cold and merciless and dare I say a nihilist? I dare. He is all about the meaninglessness of the world and life and moral relativism. He is not just about being evil but has adopted a philosophy that allows him to do as he pleases. That is in comparison to Susan who is an anthropologist taking a new position and terrified of the future. And that’s before she watches Jake shoot her husband Richard (Tahmoh Penikett) who gets a mention in the opening credits despite being in under five minutes of the film.

I give them praise for the character of Susan not easily dispatching the bad guys. She struggles for her victories. But as much as her ability to fight plays into her survival, so does dumb luck. In one instance, she is as good as dead but a misfiring of Jake’s gun injures him and saves her life. It is rather convenient but the unexpected yet relatively plausible nature of the situation allows it to work.

There are no real saints in The Last Victim, but the good characters/characters you want to win are not unlikable sinners. They’re just normal people who are borderline cynics. It’s not two different shades of terrible facing off against each other which helps me help me get through most of the story. Eventually Susan is able to get to relative safety when she gets to Hickey.

And back to the relationship between Hickey and Gaboon and ‘until it isn’t’. It’s abruptly revealed that the Gaboon is working for the bad guys. I saw absolutely no indication of that. No hints were dropped. No foreshadowing. She just pulls out a gun and shoots Hickey dead in the police car and then delivers Susan to the bad guys.

It was a bit of lazy writing. Not terribly lazy writing, but they didn’t seem to know how to get Susan back into the clutches of Jake or just generally ultimately deal with the villains. They took the quickest route rather than engaging in some creativity. I wouldn’t mind the twist if there had been hints dropped. Or did I miss it because it was just too softly done?

And then there’s the ultimate ending. Susan has made it to her new position and is teaching class. Did Susan call the cops? Or did she just walk away from the whole thing because it’s highly unlikely that anybody would actually know she was involved? I’m not sure and that kind of bothers me.

Anyway, one of the baddies survived and has broken into her home to kill her. What does she do? She decides to pour him a drink and end the cycle of murder and that’s it. The dude is connected to a homicidal group that tried to off your ass and you wanna have a shot with him and start anew? No! Shoot his ass and have your shot and then hide the body!

Usually the title of a film refers to something in the movie either obvious or not so obvious. The last victim appears to not be Susan but the guy that’s about to shoot her because he’s been eating garbage and sleeping outside. Really? What kind of crap is that!? Reframing this guy as some kind of victim not only did not work, but it doesn’t make sense.

I can’t call The Last Victim terrible, but I can’t call it quite great either. That twist out of left field and the ending certainly harm this movie for me. I’m not saying had they done something a little differently I would’ve been raving about it. I just don’t get how somebody would decide to have a drink to end the cycle of violence when one of the baddies is there to kill you because their life is a festering turd now. And It might make more sense if he was taken into custody or she just shot him to get her own personal safety back. What exactly connected Deputy Gaboon to the baddies BEFORE she shot Hickey? So much was handled poorly that it ultimately weakened the end product.

The Last Victim isn’t a bad movie, but it’s not a great movie. You won’t feel as if you wasted your time. Don’t seek it out but if it pops up and you can’t decide on what to watch give it a look. It does satisfy your desire to watch a film without disappointing you.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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