By: Anthony Francis
Director Tim Kirkby’s “Last Looks” is a sun-lit neo-noir murder mystery with an action film vibe. Each character moves through a world where one couldn’t survive without being a badass. There is tough talk, a few fist fights, and one character gets punched by almost everyone he meets.
The excellent Charlie Hunnam is Charlie Waldo, a disgraced ex-cop from L.A. who has created for himself a Zen-tinged life in the woods.
Waldo lives near a river surrounded by beautiful nature. He has decided to shed himself of all anger and resentment and remove himself from society. With only a few clothes and little material things, Waldo made a vow to not own more than one hundred things.
As any good private eye film should, the trouble starts with a woman.
Morena Baccarin is Lorena, and old flame who tracks Charlie down and gives him an offer to use his old detective skills to solve a murder.
Celebrated thespian Alistair Pinch (Mel Gibson at the top of his game!) stands accused of murdering his wife. As the police are closing in, Lorena wants Charlie to investigate and hopefully get back into the game, as his detective skills were above most.
Lorena seems to have an interest in seeing that Pinch is found innocent. Waldo refuses but the lure of his ex-love’s determination is too strong. Even though he is most unwelcome in the city of L.A. (as he says, “I didn’t burn bridges, I burned the river.”), the ex-cop relents and bicycles (his only mode of transport) back to the city.
Charlie Hunnam has long been an interesting and adventurous actor that has proven how easily he can move between drama and action and comedy. He really can do it all. William Hurt once said of himself that he was a “character actor trapped in the body of a leading man.”. The same can be said for Hunnam. His unique talents are on display throughout this film.
Waldo tries to be peaceful but swimming in the underbelly of L.A. won’t let him. Hunnam is great at letting his anger slowly build, as his wild eyes hint at the danger if it explodes.
Waldo allows the actor to be funny, ferocious, tough, and determined. This is truly one of Hunnam’s best roles.
As Waldo moves reluctantly through the city, he encounters many characters.
Rupert Friend is perfect as a self-important dad head of the television network where Gibson’s character has a hit show. For him, it isn’t about whether Finch is a murderer or not. He wants him cleared so his hit show can stay on the air.
Robin Givens is Pinch’s grumpy lawyer who wants Waldo gone. Enter the shady Don Q (a very good Jacob Scipio) and his henchman. Q seems to have an interest in Pinch as well, as does a big-time rapper named Swagg Doggg(Method Man), and everyone seems to know Lorena.
As Waldo gets to know Pinch better (by moving into his house) he meets Jayne, a teacher at Pinch’s son’s school. As Jayne, Lucy Fry is seductive and playful and makes her character surprisingly more than Waldo could imagine.
As Alastair Pinch, Mel Gibson is an absolute delight to watch. Pinch is an unapologetic drunk with an over-important sense of self and an exaggerated posh accent.
Gibson is playful in skewering the type of Hollywood stars that see themselves as kings and queens. Pinch is one of the more exciting characters the actor has played in a long time. Giving it his all, Gibson never overdoes it and shows restraint by making this man not a clownish drunk, but a somewhat fallen star now relegated to a silly television show.
Pinch drinks to drown the sorrows of a life once respected. Gibson makes this man human in funny and touching ways. It is a marvelous performance.
Written by Harold Michael Gould (based on his 2018 novel of the same name), the film is full of tough guy dialogue that is right at home in a film such as this one. Each character has a lot to say and the script Hines them their own unique rhythms.
This is a screenplay (and film) that brings back the feel of the 1970s. While not as dark and serious, this one would make a good double feature with Arthur Penn’s 1975 private eye classic “Night Moves”. Kirby’s film is the sunnier (yet still tough) side to that coin.
“Last Looks” moves sharp and fast. While not a full-on action flick, Kirby’s intense, free-flowing style and Gould’s rapid-fire screenplay certainly give it a kick that many modern films fail to achieve.
This is one entertaining piece!