×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The Last Heist’

Henry Rollins' performance as a philosophical L.A. serial killer is the only reason to see this slipshod indie bank-hostage thriller.

With:
Henry Rollins, Torrance Coombs, Victoria Pratt, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Michael Aaron Miligan, Camilla Jackson, Nick Principe, Mark Kelly, Kel Lyle, Kristina Klebe, Zo Zosak, Fay DeWitt.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4743562/

It’s been 30 years since Henry Rollins fronted the hell-raising Los Angeles hardcore punk band Black Flag, but you could say that he’s been dining out on the role ever since. And, in fact, it was a role. Punk, especially in L.A., was most definitely a form of theater — the showbiz of anti-showbiz, the drama of rock & roll that flirted with hate culture. Rollins, sporting a muscle-beach bod and exotic (at the time) circus array of tattoos, with an unsmiling glower of straight-edge ‘tude, became the spokesman for a new kind of moralistic bruiser cool. He was then able to pour that persona into his on-and-off career as an actor. His opportunities there have often been on the small screen, notably his role as a white-supremacist dad on “Sons of Anarchy” (though he has also appeared in such films as “Heat” and “Lost Highway”). Most of those opportunities have played off his image as a grimly direct truth-teller, a rationalist with a short fuse. (He channels his anger into being more-logical-than-thou.) But in the scrappy hostage drama “The Last Heist,” Rollins, straying out of his comfort zone, seizes on the chance to create a discomfort zone. He plays a serial killer who’s got a whole “philosophy” of violence, and Rollins makes him a real stand-alone, vivid creep. He’s also the only reason to see the movie.

Early on, we see him strolling down one of those anonymous industrial L.A. side boulevards, a blockish middle-aged man with grayish-white hair and a trench coat, looking for all the world like a 21st-century Willy Loman. The building he’s heading towards is a lowly bank branch that contains nothing but safety-deposit boxes — and, in fact, the branch is about to go out of business, and it’s in the middle of closing down. He just needs to unlock his stuff and go. But as fate, or sloppy utilitarian screenwriting, would have it, just minutes after he walks in the place is hit by half a dozen crooks in coordinated suits and Halloween masks. What do they want from a mostly barren safety-deposit vault? As fate (or slipshod…etc.) would have it, one of those boxes contains $100 million in drug cartel money, translated into unmarked bearer bonds. Gathering up those bonds should be a piece of cake, if only it weren’t for Rollins’ infamous Windows Killer, so named because he takes his victims’ eyeballs as trophies. He’s wandering around in the basement, ready to pounce.

Popular on Variety

“The Last Heist” is the kind of grimy threadbare indie thriller in which ambition turns out to be inseparable from a certain low-budget arrogance. It’s fine to aim high and be influenced by great movies of the past, but at a certain point it becomes clear that the director, Mike Mendez, and screenwriter, Guy Stevenson, think they’re making “Reservoir Dogs” crossed with “Dog Day Afternoon.” (You want to say: Sorry, dudes, we saw those movies too.) The dialogue is minimal, and the stock coincidences and contrivances just pile up, the most glaring one being that when Paul (Torrance Coombs), the robber whose brother works at the bank, discovers that the brother is right on the premises (he was supposed to have the day off), he reacts by removing his mask. Why? So that characters like Ally (Camilla Jackson), the bee-otch sociopath in a Patty Hearst beret, will have something to yell about. The movie turns into a weary war between the robbers, the LAPD, and a corrupt federal agent (John J. York) who swoops in to save the day (but not really).

Undermining them all is the sicko in the shadows: Rollins’ Bernard, who the audience develops a certain bond with, even as he’s slashing open people’s arteries. Maybe that’s because of how Rollins stays so quietly eager and polite. Hidden behind the kind of 1950s high-school science-teacher glasses that David Byrne wore ironically in 1992, he’s a murderer with a vision; he thinks he’s somehow saving souls. “Your heart is pumping the blood out of your body,” he explains with methodical calm to one victim, adding the reassuring thought, “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you.” Rollins delivers that line with a barely suppressed grin that says: Yes, he really is! Now it’s time for him to find a role in a good movie.

Film Review: 'The Last Heist'

Reviewed on-line, New York, June 16, 2016. MPAA Rating: Not rated. Running time: 84 MIN.

Production: XLRator Media, Parkside Pictures, and Tadross Media Group present A Benattar/Thomas Production. Produced by Rick Benattar, Nigel Thomas. Executive producers, Courtney Compton, Chris Conover, Barry Gordon, Michael Radiloff, Michael Tadross Jr., Damiano Tucci, Kaila York. Co-executive producer, Michael Aaron Miligan.

Crew: Directed by Michael Mendez. Written by Guy Stevenson; camera, Jan-Michael Losada (color, widescreen); editors, Mike Mendez, Laurens Van Charante; production designer, Lauren Meyer; costume designer, Elizabeth Magallanes; music, Alexander Bornstein; casting, Paul Ruddy.

With: Henry Rollins, Torrance Coombs, Victoria Pratt, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Michael Aaron Miligan, Camilla Jackson, Nick Principe, Mark Kelly, Kel Lyle, Kristina Klebe, Zo Zosak, Fay DeWitt.

More Film

  • Oprah Russell Simmons Documentary

    Oprah Defends Decision to Exit #MeToo Doc: 'This Is Not a Victory for Russell' Simmons

    Oprah Winfrey explained her decision to step away from “On the Record,” an expose about sexual harassment in the music industry, including women who have accused mogul Russell Simmons of misconduct. The documentary, from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, will premiere at Sundance on Jan. 25. Winfrey, who served as an executive producer and [...]

  • 'A Quiet Place 2' Still Emily

    Paramount Pictures Intl. Strikes Landmark Distribution Deal with Italy's Eagle Pictures (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paramount Pictures International has signed a landmark distribution partnership with Italy’s leading independent distribution company Eagle Pictures. Under the deal, Eagle Pictures will release Paramount titles in the country starting in March with John Krasinski’s anticipated horror film “A Quiet Place 2.” Since 2017, Paramount Pictures has had its films released by Fox in Italy, [...]

  • Some Kind of Heaven Documentary NYTimes

    Why the New York Times Is Getting Into the Documentary Films Business (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lance Oppenheim didn’t set out to make an 83-minute documentary when he started chronicling a group of senior citizens living in a retirement community in central Florida. But after 18 months and hundreds of hours of footage, he began to see the outline of his first feature-length film, “Some Kind of Heaven,” which premieres this [...]

  • - New York, NY - 10/9/19

    #GoldOpen Launches Advisory Council, 'Golden Rider' to Promote Multicultural Films

    Diversity-focused nonprofit Gold House is launching an entertainment advisory council made up of industry leaders and a Golden Rider initiative to incentivize diverse representation in film, starting with the Asian diaspora. Both the council and rider are through the organization’s #GoldOpen venture, which supports the opening weekends of multicultural films.  The council — whose members [...]

  • Taylor Swift Variety Cover Story Sundance

    Taylor Swift: No Longer 'Polite at All Costs'

    “Not a shot. Not a single chance. Not a snowball’s chance in hell.” Taylor Swift — who, at 30, has reached a Zen state of cheerful realism — laughs as she leans into a pillow she’s placed over her crossed legs inside her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, leaning further still into her infinitesimal odds of winning [...]

  • The Island

    ‘The Island,’ ‘Calamity,’ 'Piano Player' Highlight Cartoon Movie 2020 Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

    BARCELONA – Rémi Chayé’s “Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” Anca Damian’s “The Island,” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s “They Shot the Piano Player,” and Enrique Gato’s “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy” are among the sixty-six projects from twenty countries to be pitched at the 22nd Cartoon Movie, Europe’s [...]

  • Kirby Dick Amy Ziering

    'On The Record,' Russell Simmons #MeToo Doc, Charts Course to Sundance After Oprah Exit

    UPDATED: A spokesperson for Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering says the filmmaking team behind “Off the Record” will participate in print and broadcast interviews at the Sundance film festival. The accusers featured in the film are weighing press options at this time. Earlier, a spokesperson for the Russell Simmons documentary confirmed to Variety that only [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content