THE LAST MAN (2019)
Starring Hayden Christensen, Harvey Keitel, Marco Leonardi, Liz Solari, Fernán Mirás, Justin Kelly, Rafael Spregelburd, Javier Kussrow, Luciano Suardi, Justin Clouden, Federico Arzeno, Mariano Miquelarena, Bradley Krupsaw, Gabriel Smith Lenton, Garret McQuaid, Marcos Woinski, Carolina Hsu, Alex Acosta, Corina Romero and James Peter Wright.
Screenplay by Rodrigo H. Vila.
Directed by Rodrigo H. Vila.
Distributed by Lionsgate. 100 minutes. Rated R.
It co-stars Harvey Keitel. How bad can it be?
Yeah, famous last words.
First things first. Harvey Keitel may get second billing here, but he doesn’t get all that much screen time. And what he does get is pretty much one-dimensional. It seems a big waste of talent. But, no, Keitel pops in and out of the action periodically as a preacher-like freedom fighter who is trying to save himself and his flock.
The meat of the story belongs to Hayden Christensen. Apparently, Christensen’s career is a long way away from his early promise in playing a young Darth Vader in Star Wars: Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 and such adventurous small films as Shattered Glass and Factory Girl.
The Last Man is yet another pitch-black drama about a dystopian future. (It’s a pretty generic name, but at least it’s better than the inscrutable original planned title – Numb [at the edge of the end].)
It is a future noir about the world after a complete climate crisis which led to world war. In just a month, society toppled, and now survivors toil in dirty ruins, trying to live with what little technology there is left, battling off scavengers and a coming super-storm.
Christensen plays Kurt, a former soldier still fighting PTSD from war. He lives in his parents’ old home, which he has basically turned into a bunker. He roams the streets, often getting attacked by a local group of neo-Nazis. He befriends the preacher man, who is putting together a flock to find someplace safe to live. Kurt has no plan to follow him, but he does protect the guy and his followers from the many bad actors around town.
He also is regularly having extended conversations with a couple of apparent hallucinations – an army buddy (who should be dead) and a little boy (and if you can’t figure out who he is supposed to be, you’re not trying that hard).
He gets a job at a Kafka-esque factory – a steam-punk nightmare company store out of “Sixteen Tons.” However, he enjoys the distraction and falls for the boss’ sexy daughter Jessica (Colombian actress-model Liz Solari, who is stunning despite an unfortunate dye job and soft perm picked out for this role). He finds it hard to open up to her, to let her know about his nightmares. Still, he’s the kind of hopeless romantic who will tell his new girlfriend’s father, “Look, I really like your daughter, okay? So, I wouldn’t want to shoot you.”
The story is told throughout in voice over. Actually, two voice overs: there is Kurt’s narration of the action, plus several readings of passages from the preacher’s book on survival.
The voice over tries to be tough and world-weary. It drops some faux-tough guy platitudes like “When you look into darkness, darkness looks into you.” Occasionally it even pulls cutesy stunts like purloining the line “If I could find a souvenir, just to prove the world was here…” from the 1980s new wave song “99 Red Balloons” by Nena. (Other music quotes dropped randomly into dialogue include “Johnny, be good,” and “Shine on, you crazy diamond.”)
It’s nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s dark and grungy and kind of depressing. It has some fine moments, but for the most part it’s not nearly as thought-provoking as it thinks it is.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 18, 2019.