Review by James Lindorf
It is arguable that from the ’30s through the ’60s, Westerns were the dominant genre in filmmaking. In the last 50 years, there has been a severe decline in the popularity and profitability of the superhero movies of yesteryear. In recent years with the success of films like “No Country for Old Men,” “Brokeback Mountain,” and “Hell or High Water,” neo-westerns are surging in popularity and continuing the classic themes of justice, vengeance, love, and remorse. The latest entry into the genre is Naveen A. Chathapuram’s “The Last Victim,” starring Ron Perlman, Ali Larter, and Ralph Ineson. “The Last Victim” will ride into theaters and homes via VOD on May 13th.
Three factions are on a collision course in a small southwestern town. The first is a modern-day group of outlaws responsible for committing a horrific crime when one of the subordinates steps out of line. The second is the local police force led by Sheriff Hickey (Perlman). The final piece of the triangle is Sarah (Larter), a professor who just took a job on the other side of the country and is enjoying a peaceful road trip with her husband and dog. When they cross paths with the criminals, it sends everyone into a spiral of violence and retribution where survival is the only option.
“The Last Victim” has a lot of potential. Ineson has a great voice and the perfect presence for playing the ruthless gang leader. Ali Larter is giving one of the best performances of her career. You can actually enjoy her character instead of thinking about “Final Destination,” “Heroes,” the Resident Evil franchise, or one of her many other roles. However, many glaring errors hurt the overall product. The first is that Perlman, who is possibly the film’s biggest draw, is a grumpy and mostly useless jerk. He is precisely what you need as the old sheriff with high demands for his deputies. Still, his insistence to mispronounce the name of his main deputy is never funny and comes off as being rooted in misogyny and or homophobia.
The next problem is that the movie is entirely too long, at 111 minutes. It should have had a minimum of 20 minutes removed to bring energy to the story. The three groups are meandering towards each other instead of having an air of inevitability and danger. They should have entirely excised Perlman’s portion of the triangle to save that time. It is the least exciting and least impactful portion of the film. By shifting the focus to the other more substantial elements, we could have had something more in the way of “I Spit on Your Grave” or “Revenge.”
You can, without a doubt, do worse than “The Last Victim,” but you have to be prepared for its plodding pace and its general lack of excitement. For people that love movies with a cat and mouse element, anything with a western vibe, or looking at the beauty of the Canadian countryside, “The Last Victim” may reach higher grounds. Still, for most audiences, it will struggle to surpass a 2 out of 5.
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Western
Original Language: English
Director: Naveen A. Chathapuram
Producer: Vicky Gong, Shaun Sanghani, Todd Berger, Naveen A. Chathapuram, Graem Luis, Nicholas Burnett, Luke Daniels, Joseph Lanius, Charles Leslie, Frank Li
Writer: Ashley James Louis, Doc Justin, Naveen A. Chathapuram
Release Date: May 13th, 2022
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