In the not-so-distant future, the U.S, government has developed the “American Peace Initiative,” commonly known as A.P.I. It’s essentially a piercing signal that, when deployed, prohibits a person’s thoughts regarding the practice of criminal behaviors — unleashing “the cop within,” according to its slogan. Announcers and electronic billboards count down the number of days until free will becomes a thing of the past. Until then, however, lawlessness rules the street, in the form of violence, looting [cue GIF of man pulling shirt collar away from neck and making Garrggh face], and topless ladies dancing on the roofs of cars.
It just so happens that this backdrop of pre–police-state anarchy [cue GIF of person tasting something extremely bad] is the perfect distraction for Graham Bricke (Edgar Ramirez). A bank robber who knows firsthand about the A.P.I. — the powers that be happen to conduct a test of it during the middle of one of crew’s jobs — he’s also out for revenge. His brother died under mysterious circumstances in prison, and Bricke knows it wasn’t a suicide. Enter Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt). Besides having a supermodel-like fiancee (Anna Brewster) and the greasiest hair in five counties, this son of a big-time mobster wants more. He wants a legacy, and maybe a chance to hit bigger Scarface-levels of scenery-chewing than his dad’s No. 1 henchman (Brandon Auret).
So while protesters [cue GIF of toddler yelling No] are facing off against heavily armed, military-style policemen [cue GIF of Jack Nicholson vigorously waving his arms and repeatedly yelling No, No, No], Bricke and Cash are going to rip off a billion dollars from (heh) some rich folks, which we think is a kind of payback, and is certainly going to be the last American crime. Also (heh heh) the F.B.I. is sniffing around, plus (ha) there’s a counterfeit-bill printer (oh, wow) and Cash may have something going on with his sister (haha) and the fiancee has already had sex with Bricke in a heavily set-designed grimy bathroom (hahaha) set to the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (hahahahaha) and…sorry, there’s more, it’s (hahahahahahahaha) um, it’s just…
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH, oh good lord, this is all so wrongheaded! Like, an act of unbelievably full-on facepalm are-you-kidding poor judgement! We have to laugh because otherwise, we’d just weep. What is going on here?
Look, this rancid mixture of Purge-lite sci-fi dystopia and heist flick would be ridiculous regardless of when it came out. Not, like, fun, over-the-top ridiculous à la the ballistics sommelier in the John Wick films, or the kind of camp ridiculousness that makes for good trashterpieces, even with lines like “Sometimes you get to see the bullet that has your name on it.” Olivier Megaton, a graduate of the Luc Besson French Go-Bang School of Filmmaking (he’s done time in both Transporter and Taken franchises), isn’t particularly adept at staging car chases, shoot-outs and stunts. Nobody looks like they’re having fun waving guns or yelling at each other — not even Pitt, who gets to go full metal sleazebucket. We’re convinced this is solely designed to make Michael Bay’s movies look better, or at least more coherent, by comparison. This is not good action cinema. This is not even good alligator-brain cinema.
But when The Last American Crime begins to fully exploit its notions of civil unrest and aggressive pushback, and the pent-up police officer plays by Sharlto Copley that’s been put on the mantle in Act One shows up in Act Three, we’ve got a problem here. (Copley’s character is really the perfect demographic for this; it’s escapism for fascists, frustrated off-duty cops and steroid users.) Because this is now a textbook example of tone-deafness and extremely bad timing. The idea of putting these images out there at this very moment, and pimping it out as “entertainment” is, frankly, nauseating. It goes from being a crime against an art form to something a little more toxic. No. Nope. Nuh-uh. Netflix, what the hell were you thinking?