VOD Review: The Last Heist
In a new feature, we look at a disappointing crime thriller that was more criminal than thrilling.
When we did our 500th post retrospective last month, we mentioned adding new features. One that I was keen to include was a series focusing on Video On Demand releases, where many smaller niche films often find themselves. These movies are often new, or only a year or two old, so they don’t fit our Retro Review format, but they’re not wide releases like our standard Movie Reviews. They usually fall somewhere in between, meaning they are often neglected by film reviewers. That doesn’t mean they’re bad films; quite often they’re award winners at movie festivals that just can’t sustain a nation-wide release. Unfortunately, sometimes VOD upholds its reputation for being the last gasp graveyard for terrible movies. That brings us to today’s offering: The Last Heist. I’ve previously reviewed one questionable movie based on Henry Rollins’ involvement that turned out pretty decently, but my luck ran out this time.
The Last Heist (2016)
A team of bank robbers target a safety deposit vault that is in the process of being liquidated. With few remaining assets or customers, security is light, and an inside tip reveals that at least one large haul of bonds remains ripe for the taking. The robbers descend on the bank, and things instantly start to go wrong. For one, it turns out that a key employee who could identify them is on premise instead of being home. It also turns out that three customers are also on premise…and one of them happens to be a notorious serial killer just trying to clear out his stash of grisly mementos. Trapped in the bank with nothing but time, he decides to have some fun by murdering the high holy hell out of the luckless bank robbers.
It quickly becomes apparent that the bank is not the only thing about this flick that is lacking capital. I took the bait on this film because punk rocker/author/spoken word guru Henry Rollins was starring in it. His involvement is heavily showcased in the promo material and trailers. It’s a false (black) flag. After the first twenty minutes, you hardly see Henry. I have to assume for two reasons:
- This movie is terrible, and he started to get the feeling that he should probably cut his losses.
- The movie has a chintzy budget and wanted Rollins’ name and recognition, but didn’t want to pay him for a lot of camera time.
God bless him, Rollins makes a game effort of the fiasco as the serial killer Bernard. His facial expressions are great, and his character exudes a quiet menace that is promptly killed by the corny dialogue he has to recite. He quotes scripture and masquerades as a priest (because that is apparently the quickest way to suggest that your villain is one stone cold bad ass without actually doing any character building.) He has a great stare down with one of the robbers in an early scene. It just falls apart. The action sequences are supposed to make him seem preternatural and professional, but they end up looking like slap fights where the actors are trying not to break their prop guns or accidentally hurt each other. After the first kill, the director decides to hide Rollins in the ventilation shafts. Seriously. It’s a farce. You can hear him moving through the walls like somebody dragging a bag of rocks, and not one heavily armed robber even bothers to shoot up into the ventilation where he clearly is moving around like the world’s worst Santa.
The rest of the cast is absolutely awful. I would normally say the director and script writer are mostly to blame, because indeed this film features lousy dialogue and no coherent characterization for any of its cast…but they’re still complete crap at acting. Mykel Shannon Jenkins is the least bad, and actually pretty likable, but he’s only given lines when he needs to coax the head robber (Torrance Coombs) into word vomiting out the exposition of the film at certain junctures. The pair of female robbers are nasty, shrill, and sport some really awful accents. They communicate solely by uttering the word “bitch” and flashing their middles fingers. They die quickly and it is a welcome relief. The rest of the male robbers are mostly non-entities, with the exception of Coombs’ lead robber, who is an idiot. He botches this heist seven ways to Sunday in the first twenty minutes, despite trying to appear cool and aloof. His character makes every silly horror movie mistake in the book. The rest of the cast is peopled by thin stereotypes and summer stock rejects who make the piece feel desperately amateurish.
There is no level of polish to this film. The special effects are so cheap, they’re laughable. The guns are unbelievable fakes that have their muzzle flash added in by shoddy digital effects, and have no recoil, meaning the actors have to jerk their wrists like a round was fired, which looks like children playing cops and robbers with imaginary guns…which is pretty much what this film is. There is copious use of fake blood, but the continuity editing is non-existent, so a guy drenched in blood in one scene has only a token smear on him the next, and then suddenly is covered in red syrup again two seconds later. The director is also apparently unaware of how much blood one person has in them, even though some early dialogue shows that Rollins’ sociopath Bernard knows how long it takes for a person to bleed out. Its a throwaway line of dialogue meant to sound hard and cool, and that’s exactly the tone this film is going for.
This film clearly thinks it is ten pounds of cool in a nine pound bag. The robbers enter the bank dressed like Versace models with AR-15’s in a cliched “slow motion bad ass stroll” which lasts forever. It takes a year for them to swagger across an empty parking lot and into the damn bank. Characters drop profanity and threats like they’re remaking Reservoir Dogs, only they have no actual menace to back up their posturing. The film starts with a sweeping city shot and heavy orchestral arrangement that looks and sounds like it was taken whole cloth from the opening of The Dark Knight. I was praying Batman was going to arrive and end this sad movie in an orgy of violence. Much like last year’s crapfest, Checkmate, this film desperately wants to seem edgy, and goes about it by creating a laughable pastiche of action thriller tropes held together by profanity and absurdity.
Confession of a Mad Man
This movie made me genuinely angry with how bad it was. It did what so many bad movies have failed to do: it made me shut it off. I walked out. I paid good money for a film purportedly starring Henry Rollins and could only make it through the first hour. Congratulations, director Mike Mendez (I would list his past credits, but they’re alarmingly fixated on giant spiders) and writer Guy Stevenson (mostly television comedy shorts, so again, I should have seen this one coming.) You won. I can now say that I have only walked out of two movies in my life, and this is one of them. For anyone who is wondering if this film is worth the four dollars, I can emphatically say that it is not. Not for Henry Rollins, not for the brain dead action, and not for the slight thrill of watching a cinematic train-wreck unfold before your unbelieving eyes. The Last Heist has a very good chance of being the worst film I will see this year, and I still have to sit through a Toxic Avenger marathon this month.