Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Movie #339: Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing is a noir/action film starring Bruce Willis, David Patrick Kelly, Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, Ned Eisenberg, Michael Imperioli, Christopher Walken, Karina Lombard, and Alexandra Powers. It's a remake of Yojimbo, and heavily inspired by A Fistful of Dollars, neither of which I've seen.

1932, Texas, Prohibition, cool suits. A nameless drifter (Willis) calling himself "John Smith" finds himself in the tiny, nearly abandoned town of Jericho. He discovers that the town has a handful of locals (including an undertaker), a sherriff (Dern), a saloon/hotel, and two rival gangs warring over control of the liquor trade from Mexico. Smith, himself a career gun-for-hire, immediately starts playing both ends against the middle to make some cash, and that works pretty well at first. The Irish gang, led by Doyle (Kelly) has more money, but the Italian gang, led by Strozzi (Eisenberg) and Carmonte (Imperioli) make the first offer. So Smith brokers deals, shoots dudes, and otherwise makes himself useful.

Of course, what trips him up is women. Strozzi has a kept woman from Chicago named Lucy (Powers), who Smith beds and pumps (lol) for information, while Doyle "keeps" a Mexican woman (Lombard) as, effectively, a sex slave. Smith gives the money he earns to them to get them out of town, and winds up killing basically everybody along the way.

I saw this movie a long time ago, and I enjoyed it more this time, probably because I'm older and smarter and I can appreciate the influences from noir, Westerns, and chambara. Bruce Willis is perfect as Smith, speaking quietly and not being wry so much as inscrutable. We do get some comic relief from Sanderson, but mostly this movie is men yelling at and shooting each other, and everything is futile and bleak. The gangs are living as high on the hog as they can out here in the middle of nowhere, and there's always this sense that the real world is real, but it's so far away that it might as well not exist.

If anything bugs me, it's that Hickey (Walken), Doyle's scary-ass hitman, doesn't just drive away after he's the last gang member standing. I think it would have been just as effective if he'd been telling the truth when he said he didn't want to die in Texas, and not tried to outshoot Smith, but hey. All it all, it's a pretty cool movie.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: A League of Their Own