Auteur directors leave their distinct stamp on every endeavor they’re attached to, injecting their stylistic flavor in a movie that becomes synonymous with their unique perspective. While the term is largely attributed to acclaimed craftsman, some auteurs are singular for their negative qualities. That’s where Olivier Megaton comes in, a Luc Besson prodigy who left his incoherent shaky-cam mark on the disappointing Taken sequels. After a five-year reprieve, Megaton is back with The Last Days of American Crime, a shockingly tone-deaf and bloated experience that ranks among the year’s worst projects.
Set in a near-future dystopia where crime is about to be eradicated by a government signal, The Last Days of American Crime follows Graham Bricke (Edgar Ramirez), a jaded criminal looking for revenge for his deceased brother. He soon teams up with the reckless Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt) and his elusive girlfriend Shelby (Anna Brewster) to commit one last heist before time runs out. The film is an adaptation of a graphic novel written by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.
Inside its utterly-baffling 148-minute run time, Last Days of American Crime offers very little to endorse, with the sole highlight being Michael Pitt’s performance as Kevin. The underrated actor taps into manic energy as the smarmy cocksure crook while keeping audiences captivated with each bizarre personality quirk he imbues into the role. Under his abrasive façade, Pitt portrays an emotionally deranged emptiness that makes the character a menacing wildcard, elevating a role that would be cartoonish in the wrong hands
While Pitt throws his all into the role, his contemporaries seemingly sleepwalk through their poorly-written roles. Edgar Ramirez’s talents are wasted as generic action hero Graham Bricke, solemnly uttering his machismo dialogue without expressing any range of dynamic qualities. Anna Brewster is straddled with one of the most thankless female roles in recent memory, portraying a femme fatale that lacks any real dimension or humanity. It’s also quite bizarre seeing District 9 star Sharlto Copley briefly appear as an over-eager police officer, lacking an opportunity to render a complex character with what’s on the page.
The craftsmanship in The Last Days of American Crime reeks of clichés and ranges on borderline incompetence. Action screenwriter Karl Gajdusek offers the bare minimum with his by-the-books effort, establishing the most simplistic of motivations despite the high-concept premise. Olivier Megaton’s herky-jerky camerawork is more of a hindrance than an enhancement, showing an inability to create steady imagery in a desperate attempt to create a sense of style. His action setpieces are largely a bore, with an overuse of edits and lack of creativity preventing any sense of excitement.
There’s being bad, and then there’s being downright tone-deaf. Considering our society’s current unrest over racial injustices, the careless handling of the narrative’s social implications ends up being in poor taste. A critical eye could have used the film’s constant portrayals of police brutality as an indictment of America’s overly-militant state, but these moments are used as window dressing to create its senselessly machismo action landscape.
Equal parts dated and tasteless, The Last Days of American Crime fails desperately at its attempts to become a stylized genre hallmark.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.