Review by Sean Boelman
There is something to be said about a film that unabashedly wears its influences on its sleeve. Even if its existence has little more purpose than being an homage, a talented filmmaker can still make something entertaining out of it. The Last Victim owes a lot to the neo-Westerns of the past two decades but is just brutal and sharp enough to work.
The movie follows a group of people whose lives begin to intertwine in violent ways: a terrifyingly violent criminal, the sheriff pursuing him, and a woman who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when loose ends need to be tied up. The way in which the script twists these stories together creates a sense of narrative momentum, even when they stall out on their own.
Like the best films in the genre, this is really an exercise in restraint over anything else. Yes, there are some brutal and shocking moments, but they are timed right to leave an impact on the viewer. The violence feels very real and never like it is mean-spirited, with the focus instead on depicting the bleak reality of the human condition.
Still, despite the movie’s best efforts, it does still suffer from the feeling that many kaleidoscopic ensemble pieces have — that it can’t juggle all of its many elements effectively. Perhaps due to budget constraints, it often feels as if these elements are having to function on their own more than they have to come together.
The character development in the film certainly leaves something to be desired. All three of the leads are generic characters that have frustratingly shallow backstories. It’s not enough to simply throw the audience into the situation alongside the characters. We have to be given some reason to care about these characters.
Nevertheless, the three leads of the movie do a fantastic job in their roles despite being given lackluster material to work with. Ralph Ineson is the MVP, giving a menacing performance as the film’s antagonist. Ron Perlman gives it his all, although the fact that he probably had the highest price tag in the cast keeps him from having too much screen time. And it’s nice to finally see Ali Larter again after what seems to have been several years relegated to the sidelines.
Director Naveen A. Chathapuram’s style cannot be described as being particularly original, but it’s just sharp enough to work. He’s obviously trying to create a gritty, grimy world for this story to exist in, and he generally succeeds in doing so. The few bursts of violence in the movie are also extremely well-executed.
The Last Victim is enjoyable enough for what it is, even if it isn’t particularly original in terms of story or style. The cast and visuals manage to keep it afloat, especially when it doesn’t have the natural energy to keep moving.
The Last Victim hits theaters and VOD on May 13.