Man, The Last Heist boasts one damn-fine hook – bank robbers accidentally lock themselves inside with a serial killer who starts picking them off one by one. On premise alone, Mike Mendez’s latest B-Movie hopeful is enough to get genre fans all revved-up – but dammit if execution doesn’t topple such a fragile structure. This is a low-budget flick that reeks of low-budgeting, never able to overcome actors who are obviously shooting fake guns or CGI effects that stick out like digital bullet holes. What should be a raucous heist/slasher hybrid plays like a slightly-elevated game of cops and robbers, cheap in value and lacking in performances.
Sigh – this is the genre fan in me being disappointed.
Torrance Coombs stars as Paul, the leader of a criminal gang who have their sights set on a closing bank. One of the employees, Daniel (Michael Aaron Milligan), is in the middle of helping an off-color customer – Bernard, played by Henry Rollins – when Paul’s gang busts in. It’s supposed to be a 10-minute gig with a payout of $100 million, but cops quickly swarm outside, cutting off their first exit strategy. With nowhere to go, Paul sends one of his crew downstairs to start working on a Plan B that takes time the crew doesn’t have – especially when one of their hostages reveals themselves as a famed local serial killer. Cops outside, a murder slashing up your team inside? Never bet on an easy target…
Fortunately, one thing you CAN bet on is Henry Rollins churning out a sinister genre performance, no matter what movie he’s in. It’s no surprise that Rollins ends up playing “The Windows Killer” – known for taking his victim’s eyes as a souvenir – because one of the opening scene shows him open up a bag full of eyeball jars (hence no spoiler warning). With each kill, he reveals more of this twisted religious obsession that’s very Son-Of-Sam-like (God tells him to save people’s souls by killing them, then collecting their eyes because they’re the windows to the soul). It’s a very Rollins role to play, and he’s never dull or unwatchable – in fact, he’s rather chilling, and deeply, disturbingly psychotic. No shock there.
Alas, Rollins is the only true bright spot here. Most performances fall very flat (stale banter and cardboard-cutout presences), effects work spills more animated blood than practical goo, and the plot trudges along as any bank-heist-gone-wrong would. Even the film’s feel – shot in a concrete-covered back alley somewhere – immerses viewers in a very grey, monotone nothingness, much like Guy Stevenson’s shoot-by-numbers screenplay. Despite the inclusion of Rollins’ murderer, Mike Mendez can’t quite carve out a heist worth many thrills, or drama, or excitable action or…you get the picture.
Nick Principe leaves the most lasting image, merely because of his domineering stature. He’s no stranger to B-rate movies, and accentuates the part of overly-muscular brute well, but none of his co-supporting friends play along with the same self-aware nature.
Whether it be two female criminals who rage on and on about their leader Paul not handling the situation correctly, or a detective ripped right from some “Police Stereotyping 101” pamphlet, there’s a tremendous lack of depth drawn up for each character. Even Paul – the film’s fearless anti-hero – comes across in the most mundane, cliché -spewing way (snide confidence and all). Not a single line delivered outside of Rollins’ dialogue draws viewers into what should be a chaotic explosion of fear and intensity, maybe because it’s all carried out in the most flavorless, vanilla of fashions.
There’s a moment when Paul’s crew rolls into the bank where we sense this feeling of Syfy, lip-smacking genre debauchery is going to kick in. Each criminal dons a customized mask (adapted hockey style for one, a local flag on another), Rollins sneaks into an air vent, and the chase is on – then, before excitement ever peaks, that feeling fades away. Rather quickly, too. Mike Mendez has made fun movies before (Big Ass Spider!, anyone?), but The Last Heist exists as a killer concept desperately lacking in production, style and dastardly charm. Poor, poor Mr. Rollins…
You've seen this heist movie a thousand times before, and not even an eye-snatching serial killer can liven up such archaic plotting.