Studio: XLrator Media
Director: Mike Mendez
Writer: Guy Stevenson
Producer: Rick Benattar, Nigel Thomas
Stars: Henry Rollins, Torrance Coombs, Michael Aaron Milligan, Mark Kelly, Kristina Klebe, John J. York, Victoria Pratt
A heist crew’s plan to rob a bank vault takes an unexpected turn when one of their hostages turns out to be a serial killer.
A septet of thieves has sights set on an unforgettable payday. Storming a safety deposit vault in search of a multimillion dollar score, this brazen heist crew picks up a pair of unsuspecting bank managers as well as a pair of unwitting customers in the process. That’s hardly a problem. Hostages are a contingency they planned for. What no one is prepared to handle however, is the other civilian in the vault down below.
The unidentified patron happens to be a wanted serial murderer whose habit of gouging out victims’ eyes earned him the name “The Windows Killer.” He wishes to leave without incident, but the 11 people upstairs have him outnumbered and outgunned. It’s a lopsided matchup for sure, though one that is wildly skewed in this resourceful madman’s favor.
Premise alone promises a potentially killer combination of crime thriller and gruesome slasher. What “The Last Heist” actually delivers is a clumsy pileup of underwritten characters in overwrought subplots. And the film is inadequately equipped to keep any of it together believably or entertainingly.
“The Last Heist” has a mountainous “real time” problem. In other words, the movie flat out does not work as a logical story plausibly structured to play in real time.
Once exposition is out of the way and action begins in full, ask yourself during any given scene, what are the unseen characters doing right now and why? Not once will you come up with a satisfying answer. Neither will the script.
Mismatched elements bottleneck the narrative at every turn and “The Last Heist” cannot juggle them without stalling suspension of disbelief. Suspense has little chance of spinning up because each individual thread is put on pause while the film’s hand moves to the next plate. There’s never a sense that everything is happening simultaneously or that there is an underlying urgency pushing a countdown clock forward to tighten tension.
Characters routinely vanish for overlong durations. Someone will announce his/her next movement or task and then not be seen doing that thing until several scenes later. The vault building seemingly balloons into an architectural infinity of endless corridors requiring multiple minutes for anyone to travel from one room to the next. I can’t think of a single structure in Los Angeles that would have this labyrinthine of a layout, let alone a bank.
Not that anyone’s movements make sense to begin with. In one forehead-smacking scene, two crooks guarding hostages exit the room for a smoke break. The captives of course take this ridiculously serendipitous opportunity to text 911. Then one of the guards actually says, “alright, let’s get back in there” to loudly announce a warning of their return.
Laughable lapses don’t end there. When cops arrive on scene, gunfire breaks out. Another shootout occurs between two people in the basement at the same time. Action eventually calms down enough for both sides to settle while also attending to the wounded. Then and only then do the thieves guarding the hostages get on the walkie-talkie to ask, “what’s going on out there? We heard shots!” That was literally three minutes ago! Both of them are willing to leave the room for a cigarette, but neither person thinks to check on the warzone commotion taking place beneath their feet?
Fault could be forgiven if the thieves were intentionally presented as hapless goons. They’re not. They’re only poorly written. To facilitate story needs, this crack crew of criminals neglects to check back pockets during a pat-down, communicates over a common radio channel that police intercept without effort, and discards their disguises when they reason everyone will probably identify them eventually anyway.
As the movie sinks deeper into standard plot beats, the nonsensical timeline has to share its spot as the movie’s chief problem. After discovering a crewmember mutilated by an unknown assailant while another lies dying from bullet wounds and cops surround the exits, the ringleader decides this mid-movie lull is the perfect time to calmly disclose troubled family history to a curious henchman. There’s even a late stage arrival from federal authorities for the obligatory dick wagging with local police over who has jurisdiction.
Putting it plainly, the script for “The Last Heist” is lousy. Dialogue is littered with clichéd lines like, “stay frosty,” “come out, come out, wherever you are,” and the always-popular “showtime!” as the call to put a plan into motion. Everything is too unoriginal to sustain excitement or enthusiasm.
Fans of director Mike Mendez, take note: “The Last Heist” is not his most polished effort. Speculation suggests some kind of time/budget crunch or corner cutting resulting in rough edges. Editing cuts frequently to unnecessary reaction shots. White balance levels change between shots, often during slow-motion as though not compensating for the faster framerate. A bullet-riddled victim features a conspicuous lack of exit wounds on his back. The technical side of things is just not tightly tied up.
Fans of Henry Rollins, take note: Rollins’ persona perfectly suits the soft-spoken serial killer character type, a lit wick of smoldering explosiveness. But the part also boils down to being another role requiring Rollins to stand stoically stone-faced more than anything, and he isn’t even sympathetic as an antihero since he murders robbers and hostages indiscriminately.
Even more so than other characters, Rollins then disappears completely for interminably long stretches of time. His appearances are infrequent to the point where if you’re not checking your watch with wonder over when he’ll show up again, you may temporarily forget he is even in the film.
Unfortunately, “The Last Heist” is unimpressive as a Henry Rollins star vehicle. It is also uninteresting as a heist thriller and unexciting as serial killer horror. On multiple levels, “The Last Heist” is simply a misfire.
Review Score: 35