Last Looks, 2021.
Directed by Tim Kirkby.
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Mel Gibson, Morena Baccarin, Clancy Brown, Rupert Friend, Lucy Fry, Dominic Monaghan, Jacob Scipio, Paul Ben-Victor, Method Man, David Pasquesi, Sophie Fatu, Robin Givens, Xen Sams, CC Castillo, and Deacon Randle.
A disgraced ex-cop seeks solace by moving to the woods, but his quiet life comes to an end when a private eye recruits him to investigate a murder.
“There are a lot of moving parts to this mystery,” mentions unlicensed private detective Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam playing the sleuth as rusty and impulsive but capable) during the big revelation in Last Looks, to which we can only respond, “no shit.” Either director Tim Kirkby, writer Howard Michael Gould (adapting his book), or perhaps both are self-aware that this case branches off into multiple outlandish threads, so you can’t help laughing when it’s acknowledged. It’s also a plus that Charlie Hunnam is quite likable in the role; he’s quirky, has a typical dark past, is both in over his head yet the right person for the job, and headstrong not afraid to occasionally think with his fists over his brain even if it usually just gets him concussed.
Waldo (such a wacky name choice for a detective, but one that completely embodies the brand of humor here) currently lives in a trailer surrounded by the forest, having retreated to Los Angeles after disgracefully losing his police badge. Of course, there is more to it than that, but when we meet Waldo, he enjoys a simple life of nature, is eco-friendly, and chooses to only live with exactly 100 items in his trailer. Some of these eccentricities disappear once his former flame Lorena (Moreno Baccarin, basically only here to push the plot into motion) pulls Waldo back to Los Angeles to investigate a crime scene, but the character is distinct enough to make one wish Rian Johnson teams him up with Daniel Craig for a future Knives Out sequel.
The crime at hand involves a fictional junk TV Hollywood actor named Alastair Finch (Mel Gibson, chewing the scenery coming across as a British Colonel Sanders more than anything, by far the weakest link here putting in the one performance that stretches the quirk aspect a bit too far) accused of murdering his wife. Hotshot network executive Wilson Sikorsky (Rupert Friend) is panicking that his biggest draw is about to be locked up, triggering desperation to contact anyone and everyone to bring Waldo out of retirement for the case. Naturally, Waldo initially refuses until things get personal, and a zest for life is mildly reawakened in the form of a thrill-seeking seductive kindergarten teacher played by Lucy Fry.
Suspects include everyone from random henchman hired to follow or attack Waldo, a rival private eye (Dominic Monaghan), a rival TV executive (David Pasquesi), a shady character referring to himself as Dom Q (Jacob Scipio) looking for something described as a “mem,” a rising fictional hip-hop group led by Method Man, and Clancy Brown as the chief of police who seems to want someone locked up and the case closed. Waldo has also seen enough in his past to know that the force doesn’t necessarily care about getting the case right, a gut feeling that’s reassured when he is scolded for questioning low-level officers that were first on-site.
Last Looks is a tad too long for its own good, especially since it’s not exactly challenging to pinpoint who is responsible and has crucial information. At times, the jokes can also be sophomoric (a police officer with a surname that sounds like “anus.” However, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the silliness surrounding the tragedy and Waldo’s various motives for delivering justice. It’s an experience that’s primarily middling until Waldo cracks the case and lays out the facts. In that moment, it’s both entertaining and brings forth a greater appreciation for everything that came before, flaws and all. I don’t know if Waldo has any other novels, but if he gets another cinematic case, it would be worth giving a first look.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com