Released: 5th June
Seen: 11th June
When it comes to single sentence movie concepts, it’s hard to deny that “The government is about to implement a device that makes it impossible to do crime, so what would the last crime ever committed look like?” is a fantastic concept. The idea alone promises a fascinating film, maybe something like Minority Report or even the later Purge movies that had some elaborate plot device around how crime is handled and used that to discuss serious real-world issues. It promises a fun movie, possibly futuristic and certainly a little bombastic. I mean, this is a film about the last crime that can physically be committed in the United States, surely that crime has to be something elaborate right? Well, turns out… no, no it doesn’t mean that. In fact, somehow a film that’s been gifted an idea so good that it should be impossible to mess it up managed to mess up in every way possible.
The Last Days Of American Crime is your standard bank heist movie but with a slightly fancy reason why the bank has to be heisted. That’s it, that’s the entire thing. Three characters of various genders team up, grab a fourth guy (who is barely in the film) to do off-screen grunt work while the three stars alternate between planning the heist and engaging in a love triangle, Everything culminates on the night the big device that gives criminals tinnitus is turned on and we watch a very violent and uninteresting bank heist go down.
This film has kind of exploded in the public consciousness because someone thought now was the right time to release a film filled with police officers being violent and choking people… cos, ya know, we haven’t seen enough of that lately. I’ll be blunt here, if it wasn’t controversial because of the timing of its release then I guarantee you no one would even be talking about this film because it’s a forgettable mess of a film that lacks anything remotely interesting or memorable. It doesn’t have any cool action scenes, it certainly doesn’t have memorable lines and I only really kind of liked one performance out of the entire cast.
Michael Pitt is the only actor in this entire movie who gives anything resembling a memorable performance and that’s only because he decided to make every single weird choice that an actor could make. His performance is fascinating, even if it isn’t good. This is the kind of fascinating train wreck performance I would pay to see where every choice is wrong for this film and it stands out horribly… but we only get him every now and then, we spend most of the time with the other two leads who aren’t anywhere near as interesting so I won’t even bother typing their names (except in that adorable card at the start of this review but only because that’s my format and it’s worked well so far). They’re so bland that they have a scene where they’re having what’s meant to be passionate sex in a dirty bathroom while loud techno music plays and yet it’s the most passionless sterile thing that technically counts as sex. That’s the only thing memorable about them, they have the movie’s romantic subplot and I don’t even believe their characters understand the basics of human reproduction.
For two and a half hours you are asked to try and follow the exploits of this trio as they plan and execute this heist, except most of that time is spent doing anything but plan and execute the heist and it’s also just badly made. Detours galore here, for no reason other than they feel a need to fill time that no one was asking them to fill. There’s an entire bit with a guy who got set on fire by one of our main stars. This guy comes back at about the halfway point to try and set one of our main stars on fire and then he is never seen again, isn’t killed, nothing. It’s pointless as hell. Same goes for the plotline about Pitt’s father or the stuff with the one cop who might not be that bad (he’s also the one who does the choking that this film got in trouble for) or most of what happens in the first hour of this film. When I could comfortably say that cutting out a full hour of the film would do it so much good, you know someone has messed up.
The worst part though is the actual heist itself. It’s not clever or interesting, it barely even uses the whole “The government is going to give every criminal tinnitus!” thing that is the central concept of the film. They brute force their way into the safe, they brute force their way out of the safe with a large number of sequential bills (no way will they ever be caught with that) and then the movie has like 4 endings because it hasn’t quite done annoying me. There’s no clever tricks or interesting ways around the technology. Hell, you could pull out the entire “government is going to stop all crime with tinnitus” angle and the film would play exactly the same in every scene.
It doesn’t even use its genuinely fascinating premise to say anything. Again, let me repeat, the entire film is about a government that develops a weapon that will cause harm to anyone who knowingly commits a crime… you wanna tell me there’s no commentary to be made with that? No point one could make about government overreach or restriction of liberties? You couldn’t cut away to a shot of a fictional president holding his head as he becomes affected by the ‘can’t knowingly do crime’ sound? The Purge movies might not be great, but they at least understood that they opened a can of political worms and used it (from the second one onwards) to talk about class warfare. The Last Days of American Crime is almost actively trying to avoid talking about the very important concepts that are intrinsically linked to its core concept. If you’re going to do a film where a government in some way does something to the entire population, you should be kind of obligated to use that film to make a goddamn point… right?
No, not if you’re this film. If you’re The Last Days of American Crime you can ignore your central concept, pad the hell out of the runtime with pointless garbage, ignore all potentially interesting implications of your core concept and hire decent actors who you will render charmless by the end of the film. There isn’t a single thing about this picture to recommend beyond the weird Michael Pitt performance and even then, it’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it