While watching “The Last Hit” several movies popped into my head. The new film directed by Mike Glier and written by Louis Pappas (who also stars as the lead) is familiar territory for the action genre and yet it does a lot of new and interesting things with it. I thought of “John Wick” with it’s society of assassins, the music by Anthony Espina as well as the themes reminded me a bit of “Edge of Darkness” and the polished editing from Mike Glier shows flashes of films such as “The Limey.” I make these comparisons in a positive note, I enjoyed this film a lot more than I expected based on the movie poster.
The plot is one you have all seen before. Simon (Louis Pappas) loses his family to violence and becomes a hit man in order to enact cosmic justice on the cruel world he lives in. He eventually is given a job where he must kill a teenage girl. He instantly decides not to go through with it and instead rescues the girl named Gabby (Maya Juchtman). This of course triggers all his former assassin buddies to start hunting him down for a bounty.
The skeleton of the plot may be fairly simple but Mike Glier and Louis Pappas weave some interesting and fun story elements into it. The assassins are colorful characters each with their own unique skill sets and just as unique weaknesses. It’s as much fun to be introduced to these characters as it is to find out their Achilles heel. Obviously with a budget this low a video game could never be adapted out of “The Last Hit” but in the right hands this would actually make a very entertaining video game. In fact it reminded me a bit of the cult classic “No more heroes.”
It’s fun to see the genre played with a bit without being parodied, there are some legitimately very funny lines of dialogue and scenes. And while Pappas’ script sometimes hands out some undercooked and incredibly corny dialogue it’s forgivable for all the nice one-liners and intriguing characters that come parading down the screen.
The acting in this film is across the board sub-par. While all of the principle cast do have a few moments where they show some real talent with their acting, for the most part it isn’t anything to call home about. That’s not to say that these actors are bad actors, I just felt they weren’t always giving good performances. I won’t criticize Glier a lot in this review but that’s something he’s got to improve on.
His sense of space, design and how to keep a story moving are top notch; but he’ll never move on past the equivalent of well crafted gunplay and kungfu movies until he can improve how he directs actors. I did enjoy all of the characters however and that speaks to a strong script and confident direction that allowed them all to be very watchable performances despite their sometimes more wooden approach. Jim Thalman & Valentina Izarra do standout in terms of their overall performance but that’s not enough for me to give kudos to the cast.
The cinematography from Oscar Espino is pretty darn good, the fight scenes are clear and concise and I could always make out what was going on screen. The camera uses the dolly, jib and sliding shots quite well and the opening five minutes of the film really draw you in with no dialogue. This is clearly a very talented crew, and I would not be surprised at all if in the next few years Hollywood is knocking on their door.
“The Last Hit” isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but it’s a fun and well-crafted film I will probably watch again at some point. Glier and Pappas make for a good team and I’m very interested in what they do next. This is a low budget action film that’s worth a watch, if you’re a fan of the genre you’re going to be more than satisfied with this feature.