Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Strike a Posse: "The Last Outlaw" (1993)

An interesting idea is put through the Western ringer and comes out soaked in blood.

A band of bank robbers barely escape after a muddled attempt. They kill their psychotic leader, and continue on. The leader lives, and joins the very posse hunting down the robbers. He takes his bloody revenge on his old gang one by one, until just his former second in command is left.

What a great idea. Reading the back of the video box, I thought this would really play with your mind. Then I watched the movie...

Mickey Rourke, thanks to his facial hair scheme and boxer's eyes, looks like an Old West version of Fu Manchu. His southern accent is constantly dubbed in, since he mutters through this more than Marlon Brando in "The Godfather." Rourke plays the robbery gang's leader left for dead as a psychotic. It takes the rest of the posse forever to discover this fact as he gets most of them killed. There are no smart scenes where the posse does not know he is a robber, like I thought there might be. Instead, after killing the marshal and the bank president, he is made head of the posse, since the other posse members are too stupid to see his murderous ways.

Dermot Mulroney, who has never been good in a film, is good here. He plays the second in command a little to sensitively, but he is a likable hero. Ted Levine is also good as a shoot now, ask later moron who is with the gang.

The robbers are nothing more than stereotypes. Mulroney is the good guy. Levine is dumb. John C. McGinley is the coward. Keith David, because he is black, practices voodoo and is convinced Rourke is a ghost. Steve Buscemi is the dreamer, who is talking about his little home on the beach in Mexico he hopes to have one day right before having his head blown off by Rourke. Loomis (the character's name) is the injured guy they will eventually sacrifice. Rourke is psychotic just because. The posse's marshal is a he-man who is killed way too early. The bank president is nerdy and bespectacled, and also killed in an outlandish way.

The constant blood and shootings are exhausting. The whole film is just a bunch of guys riding around in the desert getting shot. The opening bank robbery, reminiscent of "The Wild Bunch," is handled well enough, but screenwriter Eric Red never gives us any characters, just warm bodies full of blood. Why does this robbery go wrong after 29 went right? Why does Rourke pick this robbery to go mental and get "killed" by his own men? How did the posse know the bank was going to be robbed? After the opening credits, you feel like you just walked into the middle of the film, not the beginning. These professional bank robbers and cold blooded posse members also spend most of the film fighting amongst themselves, and bickering in a way that made me think of my son's daycare class.

The final mistake here is having Mulroney narrate the film. Since Eric Red is no Billy Wilder, Mulroney obviously lives through the film, meaning he probably defeats Rourke in the finale. I sat through 90 minutes of bloodshed to witness a showdown that I had already figured out in the first ten minutes.

While not an utter failure, "The Last Outlaw" does not have enough going for it to be recommended. (* *) out of five stars.