GORE IN THE STORE
THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME *
Directed by Olivier Megaton.
Starring Edgar Ramirez, Michael Pitt, Anna Brewster.
Science-Fiction, thriller. U.S. 148 minutes, certificate 15.
On-Demand – Netflix
Based on the 2009 comic book from writer Rick Remender and artist Greg Tocchini, The Last Days of American Crime featured a high concept that you could see Snake Plissken fighting. The United States government plans to end crime once and for all with the aid of a nationwide signal which when broadcast scrambles the criminal’s neural pathways, leaving them incapable of committing wrongdoing. With one week to go before the signal goes live, a crew of robbers come together to commit the country’s biggest ever, and last, heist.
Tocchini’s future tech visuals aided Remender’s hard-boiled plot to create a cult comic book, the kind that catches the attention of various Hollywood producers looking for the next hot property. Over a decade later it arrives on our screens, thanks to Netflix. What could, and should, have been a lean and mean thriller is a bloated, lumbering mess that runs to two hours and twenty-eight minutes.
The most exciting thing about director Olivier Megaton is his surname. Best known for his TRANSPORTER and TAKEN sequels, wherein one instance he transformed the simple act of Liam Neeson climbing over a fence into a maelstrom of nightmarish over editing, Megaton gifts us with his most inept film to date.
Edgar Ramirez manages to anchor things somewhat with his glowering anti-hero as he faces off against other glowering criminals while he wanders around waiting for the plot to kick in. With the aid of an over-acting Michael Pitt, they embark on an overly convoluted yet barely structural plan to steal a billion dollars to spend in Canada after the “American Peace Initiative” is broadcast.
The over long running time gives free rein to awkward pacing and editing. Just when it appears that the main storyline is about to start up again, another unnecessary sub-plot pops on screen to drag everything back. Sharlto Copley is wholly wasted in one strand, playing a cop whose main contribution to the proceedings is to look worried about this whole situation. At the same time, Anna Ramirez as the femme fatale hacker and girlfriend of Pitt’s character, struggles to breathe any life or nuance into her cliched character. The lack of dimension to any of the characters sits among the flat direction, even in the action scenes which fail to raise the pulse or interest in any way.
There is very little here to enjoy aside from one bizarre scene of Pitt attending a party of his crime lord family that tips into a farcical bloodbath after issues involving his stepmother are brought up. It is the only sign of life where the film manages to perk up from its usual parade of one-dimensional characters swearing and pointing guns at each other.
The Netflix method of giving directors free rein over their original films has given us such results as ROMA and THE IRISHMAN on the one hand. When Olivier Megaton gets such leeway, we get the exact opposite end of the scale of quality. As a subscriber, it may not cost you anything to watch, but it is time you could better spend watching two much shorter and frankly better genre offerings from the streamer's massive output.