With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting everything down, new movies are few and far between. So when The Last Days of American Crime dropped on Netflix last Friday, I couldn’t wait to watch and review it. Given that this movie was directed by Olivier Megaton, the hack French director behind the utterly terrible Taken sequels and the painfully bad third Transporter film, who literally changed his last name to hark back to the Hiroshima bombing (he was born on its 20 year anniversary) because that’s how full of tact he is, I didn’t have high hopes. Those hopes were kept low by the fact that it starred Edgar Ramirez who is a scientifically verifiable charisma black hole on screen. But even with those trepidations, this was based on the popular graphic novel of the same name by Rick Remender, one of my favourite comic book writers, and it had a cool premise: a band of crooks in anarchic near-future America race against time to stage one last mega heist before the government turns on a signal that makes it physically impossible to knowingly commit a crime. That sounds like it could be a dumb fun blast, so I was definitely willing to give it a shot.
That was a mistake.
I was unable to actually write a review for The Last Days of American Crime because I think it unethical to review a movie you only partially watched. Yes, my wife and I only made it around 30 minutes into this cinematic turd before she begged me to call it quits and I couldn’t agree quick enough. A few days later, my completionist streak forced me to go back and give it another shot. I could only make it another 15 minutes.
Some of you may be thinking that at least I made it about halfway through but you would be wrong, because not only is this movie terrible, but it’s also long. An excruciating two and a half hours long, to be exact! There’s no physical way I could have sat through that. And according to those that did, I definitely made the correct choice as The Last Days of American Crime has just earned the rare distinction of having a 0% approval rating on RottenTomatoes. In the history of the review aggregator site, only 42 films with at least 20 reviews have managed to obtain this ignoble honour. Yes, this is that rarest of movies that nobody liked!
Admittedly, that score may have been a bit higher (not much though) if The Last Days of American Crime had just released at a different time. Debuting a movie about an authoritarian police state trampling people’s rights and using brutal tactics on the population – including some extreme violence – right as the real world saw widespread protests against police brutality was about as tone-deaf a decision as I have ever seen. If you were to look up the definition of the expression “Not reading the room”, it would just be a poster of this movie. But while many critics mention this aspect of the film as a mark against it, that is only one of its many sins.
From what I saw, I can most certainly corroborate many of the other criticisms that have been heaped upon The Last Days of American Crime. The script from Karl Gajdusek was so braindead that it shot past being hilariously bad and ended up being that level of painfully terrible where you just stare at the screen with a furrowed brow in mind-numbing incomprehension. An early example of this is an opening scene where Ramirez’s Graham Brick leaves a character standing in a puddle of diesel with a lit cigar in his mouth. At no point does this character try to remove the cigar with his hands, as he clearly can after Brick has left, and instead drops it from his lips after some coughing… which somehow triggers an explosion big enough to turn an entire floor of a building into a ginormous explosion of flame and debris. When it came to the characters, I was hoping somebody would blow them all up as every single one of them is not only irredeemably unlikeable but also utterly lifeless as actors sleepwalked from one lumbering scene to the next.
Sharlto Copley, an actor who became famous for wildly entertaining on-screen performances is almost unrecognizable here as Police Officer William Sawyer, not due to any makeup, but rather just because of how boring and muted he is. Even sex scenes, which seem to be Gajdusek’s idea of character development for Anna Brewster’s hacker Shelby Dupree, is a chemically inert slog to get through. Michael Pitt, as wannabe criminal mastermind Kevin Nash, is the only one in the entire cast that actually appears to have a pulse. But that counts for nought as Megaton stages and directs the entire film – including a number of action set-pieces that drag on way too long – with the comparable excitement and flair of opening an email from SARS.
The only moment of joy I got from my entire viewing time was when I realized that the film had actually been shot in Cape Town and Johannesburg and boasted a host of local talent. And then I promptly got angry that my country had played a hand in producing this festering bag of wet garbage. If I had watched this in a cinema, I would have stood up, thrown my popcorn at the screen in anger, and promptly stomped out while loudly singing “Shozaloza” so that I could try to reignite some semblance of national pride. Maybe even go home and rewatch the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.
Bad movies can be really entertaining. We have a mountain of pop cult classics as evidence of this statement. The Last Days of American Crime most definitely does not join this illustrious group though. It’s a really bad movie that is JUST REALLY BAD. On every conceivable level. As I stated before, while there may be some similarities in the format, this is not a review that I’ve written. This is a warning.
Last Updated: June 11, 2020