The name, Olivier Megaton is one that inspires a mixture of feelings. Even the cadences and implications are a vying dichotomy of ideals. Olivier casts up allusions toward the great acting tradition and robust theatrical talents; while Megaton gives rise to thoughts of bombast and pyrotechnic excitement. The man himself has distinguished his career with a series of high-octane, if low-brow action films, filled with gunplay, car chases, and fistfights. But why do I bring up his name? Well, I’ve arguably put more thought and effort into this single, largely pointless, paragraph, than Megaton put into any directorial aspect of The Last Days of American Crime.
Set in the near future, The Last Days of American Crime, details the final days in America before a Government-mandated ‘signal’ will be broadcast, rendering criminal activity physically impossible. Into the mix falls Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez); hardened criminal and bank robber. He’s lured into doing one last big job by shady couple Shelby (Anna Brewster) and Kevin (Michael Pitt), before escaping to Canada. Of course, nothing is ever quite that simple.
The greatest tragedy of this film is that it’s not even so bad that it’s fun. Megaton has managed to squander a bevy of resources on this film. It has its basis in an acclaimed comic miniseries and an intriguing premise. It also clearly had a solid shooting budget, a decent stunt crew, capable cinematography, and a cast of established character actors. Yet somehow, the ends never manage to become anything near the sum of its parts. It’s a film that actively tries to suck the air out of every dialogue scene, the fire from every moment of action, and the passion from the unnecessary sex scenes.
Most of the cast seem to be haplessly reading their lines from a state of confused and morbid acquiescence to how wasted their talents are on this film. Pitt and Brewster seem to have taken the opposite approaches to the material. While he chews the scenery, improvises and larks about, she throws herself into needless intensity; all the while Ramírez stoically grimaces and mutters his lines, clearly wishing he was literally anywhere else. The exception to this is the presence of Sharlto Copley, acting his heart out in a B-plot storyline as a troubled cop. It’s a thread that is so confused and detached from the rest of the film that its inclusion never fits into the story in a meaningful way, and is presumably a leftover from the comic that has been adapted to the point of sheer incomprehensibility.
The worst part of this messy, nonsensical, badly written, and horribly edited crime against celluloid, is that at 149 minutes long, it’s needlessly dragged out, making the sheer boredom of the experience so much worse. Somewhere in here, was a good idea for a fun middle of the road popcorn flick. Instead, we’ve ended up with the Showgirls of action movies. Do yourself a favour and watch anything else.
Available to stream on Netflix now.