Making action films is not an easy task. Really, creating any sort of film is not an easy task. The film is a collaborative process where people from different backgrounds, different ideas and talents come together in order to create a single piece of art. But action films, especially, are a different animal. They take a lot of preparation in order to show sequences that hopefully the audiences can find interesting and exciting, and they also need preparation in order to achieve a good level of security for everyone on the shoot. Does Last Man Down manage to create these amazing action sequences? Does it manage to be a good action film? Or does it fail in every single aspect of the genre?
Last Man Down is a film written and directed by Fansy Njie and stars Daniel Stisen, Olga Kent and Daniel Nehme. The film tells the story of John Wood, a man who lives in a post-apocalyptic world where civilization has fallen after a deadly pandemic. With his wife dead, John Wood has become a hermit until past enemies track him down once more to take everything from him.
It’s very sad to say, but Last Man Down is a terrible movie. It’s really awful. Why? You may ask, and the reason becomes apparent just within the few first minutes of the film. Where we are thrown into a scene that is supposed to be tragic and emotional but that lacks any sort of impact thanks to poor acting, bad writing and even the worst placement in the story. Outside the work done by cinematographer Markus A Ljungberg, every single effort from the different departments feels amateurish at best and incompetent at worst, making the film almost unwatchable.
The first big problem of the film is its structure and premise. By the sound of the above description, it seems as if the film is trying to build a huge world where a virus has transformed life on Earth. But the film doesn’t have the resources to build that world, so the audience never sees it, only hears it being talked about. When you cannot even fulfill the promise of your premise, maybe it is time to reevaluate the whole story of your film. There are many hands on the script, but every single scene, set up, joke, and line of dialogue feels fake and awkward.
This might be the result of the film being translated from his native Swedish, so every single actor is talking in their second language instead of their mother tongue. The point is that the story tells absolutely nothing, and it doesn’t create any engagement at all with the audience. Soon, the ambition gives way to laziness, and the film’s 87 minutes are filled with almost no character or plot development.
However, action movies don’t need a great narrative or amazing characters to at least be cool, right? They can overcome those problems by delivering a series of amazing action sequences that will fill audiences with excitement to see what the next cool thing the filmmakers present will be. Sadly, Last Man Down also fails in the department.
But how? Well, there is a big problem with the movie and the people we see acting in it. All of them are terrible actors, and they cannot deliver a line that doesn’t sound awkward for the life of them. Stisen is the worst of them all, and it is baffling that he could get the leading role of the movie. There’s no feeling coming from the actor, and he might be a robot for all we know.
Stisen is a bodybuilder, and he displays a very impressive build, but Stisen isn’t a fighter, and his movements are slow and weak. The choreography might be one of the worst examples of action choreography ever seen on the screen. Most of the action limits itself to some kicks and punches and then some very generic gunplay, and that’s it. The great action film that the movie is supposed to be, ends up looking more like an inside joke from its filmmakers.
The rest of the actors fare equally poorly. When the delivery of your actors feels like they are reading from note cards outside of the frame of the shot, then you have a problem with your movie. The macho look of every single one of these actors creates expectation. The movie says we are about to see something akin to Commando or Predator. Instead, it becomes some boring movie about a virus that we never see, with characters that we don’t and action sequences that are just there to kill time.
Last Man Down might look like a fine option to stream on a lazy Sunday. But believe me, there are tons of better options out there, especially in the action genre, where films like The Raid, and John Wick have already created a standard that is difficult to go back against. Choose any other film this year, and you will do better than watching Last Man Down