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- Apr 4, 2017
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The Last Man
Films about PTSD suffering soldiers has become a bit of a thing in recent years. Max Martini just had his go at the subject with Sgt. Will Gardner, and before that the mediocre Man Down. Writer/Director Rodrigo H. Vila has a much different take on the PTSD ridden anti-hero genre with The Last Man. The film approach he takes is more saturated in Neo Noir arthouse with an absolutely unpleasant watching experience that just misses the mark so badly. The Argentinian director tries so desperately to make something profound and witty, but instead makes a blundering mess of a film that asks so many questions and is saturated in so much gray and covered over by Hayden Christensen’s dull monotone narration that the audience is just begging for the movie to end by the time the credits start rolling.
A brooding PTSD torn soldier named Kurt (Hayden Christensen) is haunted by the memories of his life in battle. Like many of his kind, he came home a broken shell of a man, unable to function in regular society, and lives his life on the slums of Argentina in the same home that he grew up in. However, as the narration by Kurt says, the world is about to end in 30 days and it’s up to him to try and survive it. Rewinding a bit earlier we see Kurt trying to survive on the streets, and is pulled in by a street preacher named Noe (Harvey Keitel, with an incredibly one note role) who claims that an electrical storm is going to eliminate all life on earth as we know it in a few months. Not sure if he should believe the old man, Kurt decides to turn his crummy house into a veritable fortress…..just in case.
The bunker idea comes to a half when Kurt runs out of funds, which are needed for more food and supplies for his ever growing obsession with the street preacher. Taking a job for a shady security firm, Kurt ends up falling for the boss’s daughter Jessica (Liz Solari), a sultry seductress who plays the miserable role of femme fatale in the film. Like all femme fetales, she is the damsel in distress needing saving, complete with an awkward romance that culminates in one of the most unintentionally hilarious sex scenes that I’ve ever seen in a movie (seriously, it took every ounce of self control not to bust up laughing when it came up). Only thing is, he’s framed for stealing money, and the boss is after him for the stolen funds, forcing the soldier to go to war once more to protect himself and the woman he loves.
Vila is also obsessed with keeping things enigmatic and cryptic throughout the film. He constantly raises the questions of “Is Kurt really just imagining this?”, “Is the end of the world nigh?”, “or is this just all a mental issue in the PTSD ridden soldier’s brains, and we’re all watching him fall apart”? All of these questions get dangled like carrots in front of the viewer’s eyes, but nothing ever clues you in to any resolution. Vila seems to want the viewer to ask the questions, then revels in not answering them, considering that “high art” instead. It’s a frustrating experience and makes the movie so unimaginably unlikable.
Rated R for language throughout, violence and some sexuality/nudity
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The Last Man is a burdensome affair, with a really weak performance by both Keitel and Christensen, forcing me to just lose all caring for the movie within a short time span. I really WANTED to like The Last Man as Rodgriga H. Vila had been hyping the film up for so long, claiming it as his artistic masterpiece. Sadly what we end up with is a turgid movie that is so banal and unpleasant to sit through I honestly was happy when I saw the credits start to roll. The Blu-ray itself is solid by Lionsgate standards, but is hampered by the visual style of Vila as well as a distinct lack of any extras whatsoever. It’s a good try by the Argentinian director, but it falls far short of its lofty goals. Skip It.
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Hayden Christensen, Marco Leonardi, Liz Solari, Justin Kelly, Fernan Miras
Directed by: Rodrigo H. Vila
Written by: Rodrigo H. Vila, Gustavo Lencina
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 12h, 2019
Recommendation: Skip It