Saturday, July 16, 2016

In short: The Last Heist (2016)

A group of former military operators led by one Paul (Torrance Coombs) is starting on what looks like the easiest heist possible. Their target is a deposit box vault that has nearly been closed down, and is only open to let a very few remaining customers get their valuables back. Consequently, there are only two people still working there, no security at all (which obviously stretches belief, but so will much of what’s to come), and there won’t be all that many civilians to control. But where’s the payoff for crime in this case, one might very well ask oneself. Turns out, there is something rather valuable in one of the deposit boxes still in house. We’ll even learn the what and why of this very special thing but because it belongs to one of the many, many complications the film will throw in, it’s not strictly necessary to explain.

Anyway, one of the guys working the place today is Danny (Michael Aaron Milligan) who just happens to be Paul’s brother. For what I can only assume to be good reasons the script just forgets to mention, Paul at once unmasks when he sees Danny, dooming the civilians to potential murder by some of his more bloodthirsty companions. Speaking of bloodthirsty, one of these civilians – and as it so happens the one ideally placed to not get tied up by Paul’s cohorts – turns out to be Los Angeles’s top serial killer, known as “Windows” because he likes to cut out the eyes of his victims after death, which just might complicate things further. Add that Danny quickly manages to send off a text message to the 911 line, and soon the police as represented by Sergeant Pascal (Victoria Pratt) gets involved too.

The script will add further complications, but I think I can stop here. As is quite obvious, the script to Mike Mendez’ The Last Heist (written by Guy Stevenson who also has a minor role in front of the camera) tries to get around that most notorious problem of many a modern low budget action film, the somewhat problematic fact that these films can’t actually afford to show much action, by replacing the escalations that would mean stuff actually needed to happen with complications that mostly give the characters opportunity to have more stuff to stand around and talk about.

It’s a daring approach, and not one I’m keen to encounter too often, but it is something of an improvement in so much as the characters don’t have to talk about the same stuff again and again to fill out the running time. Hooray, I guess.

Though seriously, The Last Heist is mildly diverting, mostly because the actors are good enough – with Rollins and Pratt the obvious stand-outs, the former in voluntary hilarity, the latter in professionalism – and because Mendez does his best to keep the not exactly exciting happenings visually interesting. There’s only so much that can be done without the money for about two action scenes, of course, but it’s the thought that counts in filmmaking, right?

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