Revenge flicks are some of the most enjoyable movies around. Whether they are violent or not, the concept of a person getting the best out of those who wrong them is one of the most exciting things in the film. Like any other movie, they are quite hard to make. The recipe for a good revenge movie needs very fine and unique ingredients; you need a likable protagonist, someone the audience can root for even when the morality of their actions is put into question. You also need a set-up. Watching someone go into a rampage just because, doesn’t have any weight behind it. And last but not least, you need good action. The important scenes need to be punchy and impactful. Does Every Last One of Them achieve all of this?
Every Last One of Them is a film directed by Christian Sesma and stars Paul Sloan, Richard Dreyfuss, Jake Weber and Taryn Manning. The film tells the story of a desperate father trying to find his daughter. The clues lead him to a small town in the desert where he will need to face a vicious landlord and his family, who are trying to protect a family secret that could cost them billions of dollars. So, does Every Last One of Them achieves anything of the above criteria? The answer, sadly, is no. Every Last One of Them can not afford to have good action. It misses the set-up completely and offers a sad excuse for a protagonist.
Setting up the conflict in a revenge movie is essential. By setting it up, you will take the audience into the protagonist’s mind, and if the set-up is good enough, then everything they do during the movie will be justified. Take, for example, what Quentin Tarantino does with the Bride at the beginning of Kill Bill Vol. 1. This is an amazing set up because we quickly get on the Bride’s side. She wants to get out of the assassination business. She is going to get married. She’s seizing her second chance at life. We know at this point she’s a killer, but she’s likable, and we want people to be able to redeem themselves. When that chance is taken from the table by Bill and his team, then it is game on. Whatever the Bride does during the rest of the film is utterly justified. They had it coming, they just needed to leave her alone.
The same happens in John Wick. The set-up shows us that John is retired, his wife just died, he’s in a sad, bad place. And then some idiots decide to steal his car and kill his dog. At that point, the audience is completely on the character’s side. We want him to get his revenge, and we empathize with him as a character.
Every Last One of Them, skips the set-up and goes straight for the kill. The result is that our main character feels unhinged and completely on the wrong side of the situation. It’s hard to root for him, and the movie never gets you to his side. This could be considered a fresh take on the trope, but sadly, Paul Sloan can’t pull off that kind of acting. He’s a bad father and a psycho. The film results in a frustrating watch from beginning to end. The villains don’t fare any better, and it becomes a watching the watch kind of film, where you’re just waiting for all these bad people to kill each other and end this nightmare.
Without a good setup to justify the violence that will ensue and without the main character that the audience can get behind, then all the weight of the piece falls into the action. This is another aspect where Every Last One of Them falls flat. This is clearly a low-budget effort and the lack of resources is apparent, so the action choreography goes from decent to laughable at many points during the film. Films like John Wick and The Raid have raised the bar so high when it comes to the action that seeing films like this just doesn’t do it anymore.
The visual look of the film looks incredibly cheap, with low effort production design and empty, flat environments. The cinematography goes for a washed up look that makes the desert look boring and uninteresting. This is also something that becomes kind of unacceptable when Sean Baker can make a movie like Tangerine with an iPhone and still fill the screen with color, good composition and dynamic lighting.
Apart from Sloan, the rest of the cast doesn’t do any better. This is a paycheck gig, and it shows when actors like Richard Dreyfuss and Michael Madsen make an appearance, and they seem to be on autopilot during their very minor scenes.
When the movie ends and the writing credits show four writers, many questions come to mind. Something really wrong happened during this production and the result is a movie that is better left on the streaming services as something to avoid instead of wasting time watching it.