Review: The Last Days of American Crime Wastes a Solid Premise

‘The Last Days of American Crime’ is a Netflix heist movie that employs a dystopian, science-fiction premise. The film is based on a graphic novel of the same name by Rick Remender and Greg Tochchini. The film is billed as yet another attempt by the streaming platform to match the Hollywood blockbuster formula after several unimpressive attempts. The unique premise and an engaging genre is not the only appealing thing about ‘The Last Days of American Crime,’ however. The movie stars Edgar Ramirez in the leading role, apart from Anna Brewster and Michael Pitt. Does it live up to its expectations, though?

The Last Days of American Crime Plot:

The heist movie is set in a dystopian United States wherein the government plans to launch the American Peace Initiative (API). The API is basically a signal that would be transmitted. This signal would interfere with the public’s mind and disallow them to perform anything that they think is illegal or immoral. Due to this controversial step, several people are attempting to emigrate to Canada, but border control has been stepped up. The story takes place in a city bordering Canada.

Graham Bricke is a criminal whose brother, Rory, commits suicide in jail. He gets approached by a woman named Shelby Dupree at a bar. The two have sex. A man named Kevin Cash comes looking for Bricke immediately after that. It is revealed that Cash is Dupree’s fiance. Cash and Dupree had planned the latter hitting on Bricke so that they can approach him for a heist plan. Additionally, Cash tells Bricke that Rory was killed by the prison guards.

The heist plan involves Dupree seducing the API tower’s system manager at the night of the signal’s launch, delaying the broadcast. Cash and Bricke would infiltrate the city’s mint to steal a large sum of money. Then, they would escape to Canada. The police would have handed over their authority of the city due to the API taking over that night, making their job easier.

However, Dupree is working as an informant for the FBI. The FBI agents let her sister go to Canada, threatening to kill/torture her (Dupree’s sister) if she doesn’t obey them. Bricke finds out about that. Bricke and Dupree slowly fall in love.

After the heist, Cash shoots Bricke, betraying him. He reveals that he was the one who had killed Rory in prison when the guards made him and Rory fight each other while experimenting with the API. However, he gets killed by the FBI agents that Dupree had been working for. Then, Bricke kills the FBI agents. He picks up Dupree from the API tower and the two escape to Canada. However, after crossing the border, Bricke dies due to the gunshot wounds, from Cash. Dupree finds her sister. She releases Rory’s ashes in a water body and drives off.

The Last Days of American Crime Review:

‘The Last Days of American Crime’ proves to be yet another unsuccessful attempt by Netflix to emulate a mass-appealing action flick. It wastes a rather solid premise with a film that lacks substance despite a few flashes of style.

To begin with, the movie’s high production value is easy to spot. The money certainly seems to be spent well, when it comes to explosive action sequences and visual world-building. The latter is not unforgettable, but it does the job. The film certainly carries a graphic novel vibe. However, ‘The Last Days of American Crime’ proves to be extremely shallow. It attempts to sport multiple layers, but gloriously creates a mess of the larger picture by trying to do so. For starters, the heist plan itself is highly unconvincing. By no stretch of the imagination is the plan smart. The plan is explained in thirty seconds, with Cash referring to the mint as “the money tower.”

There are various facets of the heist plan that are not fleshed out. For instance, the API tower systems manager proves to be unconvincingly lax in allowing Dupree in the tower on the night of the signal’s broadcast. Plus, Cash and Dupree’s infiltration of “the money tower” relies heavily on their gunslinging abilities, as if the story might be confusing itself for a Western. The shooting showdowns (not just limited to the heists) feel highly unreal too. Bullets are persistently showered, with none hitting the protagonists on target. But the heroes’ aim is on-point.

The first half proves to be taxingly slow too. There is tons of character build-up, but it doesn’t really pay off because that too lacks depth. The non-exclusive-ish love triangle premise between Bricke, Cash, and Dupree does seem to be an engaging premise. But that is wasted in favor of theatrical moments as well. On top of all that, the movie veers off frequently, lacking a solid direction. The film tries to cram too much in two and a half hours. However, none of the subplots (some of which aren’t even mentioned in the recap because they don’t lead to much towards the end) are cogently developed.

When it comes to the world-building, it seems as if the dystopian premise is conjured up just to facilitate the events of the story. The concept could have been used for significantly more thought-provoking themes. One thing that makes ‘The Last Days of American Crime’ bearable is the acting. The cast members certainly put up good performances, but even that is not enough to save the glib heist film. Final verdict: utilize your two-and-a-half-hours for something more worthwhile.

Rating: 1.5/5

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