Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Mem(ory Stick)
In Last Looks, Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam) is a retired cop and former LAPD officer. He ghosted everyone he knew, parked a trailer on the top of a mountain, got rid of nearly everything he owned, and now lives a life of solitude off the grid. Waldo seems genuinely happy surrounded by nothing but nature and his chickens until his new simplistic life is interrupted by his on-again and off-again ex-girlfriend Lorena (Morena Baccarin) asks for Waldo’s help on a new case.
Alastair Pinch (Mel Gibson) is a talented and accomplished actor whose drinking pushes him to erratic behavior. Pinch is the prime suspect when his wife is murdered. It’s up to Waldo to come out of retirement to prove Pinch’s innocence despite his reluctance to take the case.
Based on the 2018 crime, mystery novel of the same name, Last Looks is written by Howard Michael Gould (who wrote the book and the screenplay) and directed by Tim Kirkby (Action Point). The film attempts to be quirky and funny while offering its audience something intriguing and entertaining; something along the lines of Rian Johnson’s Brick, Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, or David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake.
The biggest draw is that Waldo literally just gets his ass kicked the entire film. It’s repeatedly mentioned that Waldo is rusty in all aspects of investigating, so that likely plays a part of it. But he is knocked down and knocked out more times than you can count throughout the film. One of the only interesting aspects of the film is that Waldo is consistently given signs that he shouldn’t take this case. He’s threatened by gangsters, Pinch is arrested almost immediately after Waldo shows up in Los Angeles, and Lorena disappears without a trace as soon as Waldo gets to Los Angeles. It may be as simple as Waldo still having a thing for Lorena, but you like to think that it’s also because she’d only ask him for help with a case that deserves his attention.
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Last Looks is an odd film. The performances from Charlie Hunnam and Mel Gibson are relatively solid, but it’s as if they’re wasting all of their talent being trapped within the walls of a trampled and soggy paper bag. Waldo encounters all of these eccentric characters as you follow his investigation from his perspective, but it feels like it goes nowhere once it’s all said and done. In the grand scheme of things, Last Looks is boring. There’s no real humor here. The entire film can be summed up as watching Charlie Hunnam stand around and talk and get punched in the face consistently over the course of two hours.
There are some peculiar cameos in Last Looks. Method Man mostly appears in internet videos watched on a mobile phone while Dominic Monaghan shows up as a vape-smoking lawyer only to never be seen again after one brief bike rack encounter. Jacob Scipio has a great introductory sequence as a gangster named Don Q who is troubled by deciding whether to get a Kindle or a Nook and then his character kind of fizzles out after that despite being featured prominently in the supporting cast. Don Q has a connection to Lorena that starts off as intriguing with a disappointing payoff.
Jayne White (Lucy Fry) is Gaby Pinch’s, Alastair’s daughter, preschool teacher and her inclusion in the story is a complete mess. White flirts with Waldo from the start, so you know where that’s going but her connection to Alastair and what that branches off into seems overly complicated for the grand scheme of things.
Last Looks is a mysterious stew that experiments with flavorful ingredients throughout its two-hour duration. The film ultimately collapses under its own potential resulting in a bland and flavorless concoction. Every side character is just interesting enough to pique your interest and the film is written in a way where it seems like everyone is a suspect, but every potentially exciting aspect dissolves before it has a chance to light up the sky; like a really expensive firecracker that turns out to be a dud.
The film may be worth a look for Mel Gibson’s flashy, boisterous, and drunkenly absurd performance. The mystery in Last Looks is essentially comparable to trying to discover the expiration date on a can of mystery meat that has lost its label; it may be life-threatening but is otherwise a bore to experience by others.
© 2022 Chris Sawin