Movie Review: The Last Days of American Crime
The Last Days of American Crime is about taking its title literally. Some scientist has figured out a signal to send to brains in order to stop criminal behavior. Graham Bricke is a career criminal and wants to escape to Canada in order to avoid the signal. Kevin Cash is a mobster's son who says he not only can get Bricke into Canada, but he can make him a billionaire in the process if they can pull off one last heist. The film stars Edgar Ramírez, Michael Pitt, Anna Brewster, Tamer Burjaq, Brandon Auret, and Sharlto Copley. It is directed by Olivier Megaton and is written by Karl Gajdusek. The film is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
This is a very interesting thought exercise. What are the ethical ramifications of removing choice from the human psyche? Even more interesting is that police officers and other law enforcement are allowed to keep their jobs and get an implant that suppresses the signal. Because as we've seen in the last few days, no, the last several hundred years, all police officers are entirely upstanding of all moral values, right? Because they're not humans that could ever be corrupted, right? The Last Days of American Crime brushes on this as the two FBI agents casually mention that they will face no consequences if they so choose to rape and murder Shelby's sister if she won't cooperate. Yet, for all the philosophical potential, The Last Days of American Crime wastes all of it.
It's a big, dumb, poorly executed film. It has no center, it's far, far, far, far too long. I have a feeling screenwriter Karl Gajdusek kept wanting to put everything in from the source material and director Olivier Megaton kept saying yes. The bloat of story is simply ridiculous. There's no reason whatsoever for the Sawyer storyline, especially if there is no real meat to the morality of his actions. This film didn't need two sex scenes and an attempted rape. This film didn't need an extended sequence with Bricke's original crew that serves a plot thread that doesn't make it to halfway through the film. This film doesn't need either of its complicated, trite, groan worthy and completely unbelievable emotional cores.
This film needed its heist. It could have been a slick hour and forty minute heist film. If it were, maybe Shelby could have been written as a person. Yes, the only woman lead in this film is the absolute most competent person in the room. Yet, as if as punishment for being smarter than the men around her, she's constantly in tight, clinging clothes, just underwear, or nothing. Her motivation is cliched, her being a sex object is frustrating, and her ignored competence is frustrating. If I would have to guess, Anna Brewster's agent thought this would make her a star, if she's lucky, she'll get another job.
I like Edgar Ramírez. I think he's very talented in the right role and to his credit, his character is named Bricke, he just took it literally and placed all of his charisma into a dull robot. All of the acting in this film is a bit off. I won't say it's bad. I've seen bad acting, this is bad directing, but what's strangest of all is that the majority of actors with speaking roles are not Americans. It's so obvious that there was no budget for a dialect coach and each of them is trying so desperately hard to cover their accents that it makes it more pronounced. If they're going to hire so many South African actors and British actors, why not just adapt it all the way and call it "The Last Days of South African Crime?" It couldn't take place on the border with Botswana or Namibia? It makes just about as much sense as crime is not a uniquely American invention. It would have been better to hear these actors not have to strain and punch through speeches that their accents just wouldn't allow them to get through. What's the point of saving a little money if it tosses credibility out the window?
Though, what's the point is all I kept asking myself through the entirety of Michael Pitt's screen time. He makes CHOICES with this role. There are obvious problems with the way his character is written, but if the story takes place in Michigan and the character has spent his life in Michigan, why would he have such a strong working class east coast accent? The whole performance kind of plays like a Jared Leto/Mark Wahlberg/Nicolas Cage mixtape of unhinged and it's ridiculously distracting even amongst the glaring and ridiculous choices of the rest of the film.
Don't waste your time on The Last Days of American Crime. It's a poor excuse for a story that came out at the exact wrong moment. The film never gets off the ground and will just leave you cold. If I didn't want to write this review, I would have turned this film off within twenty minutes. It's not worth your time to even hit the "thumbs down" button.