The Last Heist (2016): B Movie Horror Action Fun (Review)

Kristina Klebe in The Last Heist

Director Mike Mendez gives us a film written by Guy Stevenson that is a three-way split. Horror, action and thriller genres all wrapped in one package, titled The Last Heist. Starring Henry Rollins, Kristina KlebeTorrance Coombs and Victoria Pratt the film starts off as a heist caper that goes horrifically wrong. 

A gang of bank robbers target a closing bank.  As they get ready to make their move, a stranger wearing all black and carrying a large brown satchel walks by the parked getaway van and enters the bank.

There is a nod to Aliens inside the van as one of the robbers says, “Somebody wake up Briggs,” a variation on “Somebody wake up Hicks.” A nice touch and one that shows the fun in both Mendez and Stevenson.

It could be argued that the gang’s outfits are also a nod and wink to two other heist films.  All but Tracy and Ally are wearing “Reservoir Dogs‘ suits and ties and the masks, while not actually kabuki,  are close enough to evoke images of “Sushi Girl.”

The gang in the bank end up being picked off by Rollins’ “Window’s Killer” and find themselves surrounded by the cops. (There is a good gag about texting that is quite funny.)

There are things about the film that irk. The guns are all clearly Airsoft replicas and despite the best efforts of the actors at doing weapon “recoil” the guns are using “CG blanks” as it were.   There is one scene where the detective’s gun shoots  a round after locking open, a sign that it is clearly out of ammunition.

Another scene, dealing with guns, oddly enough, has the killer’s bag shot repeatedly by an automatic rifle. A few moments later the bag is unmarked, without a single bullet hole to be seen.

While the guns were not up to par, the storyline is busy enough and the acting convincing enough that the film moves well.  In terms of actors, there could have been a lot more Klebe. Her badass character was brilliant even when coming up against Rollins’ crazy killer.

Victoria Pratt was spot on as the somewhat jaded detective who refers to the young cops sent as back up as kindergarteners.  There are enough twists and turns to keep the audience interested and enough action to insure a low boredom factor.

(Although, like the computer generated gunshots, there were other things that jarred in the film. The ties, used to  bind the hands of the hostages,  were so loose that they could have fallen off.)

Mendez keeps the plates spinning.  Cops breaching, the bank,  robbers going after the score and a serial killer that is gleefully going about his business and killing whomever he comes across.

The Last Heist has a huge body count, a creepily funny serial killer and enough blood to float a battleship.

Henry Rollins rocks it as the smiling serial killer who came to close out his safety deposit box and leaves with so much more. Aussie actress Camilla Jackson is excellent as the aggressive bank robber with no patience for the elderly.

For some reason this film has been almost universally panned.  This is good “B” movie fun, a blending of genres that works well and entertains thoroughly.  It does not take itself too seriously and neither should the audience.

The Last Heist is a 3.5 star film. It starts as a bank robbery “caper” movie  and segues into a horror film. Although it does switch back and forth between these two genres along the course of the film.

The movie  is streaming on Netflix and is well worth a look. Pop up some corn and crack open a beer and enjoy this for what it is.  It may not be “The French Connection” but it certainly is not “Death Squad, aka 2047: Sights of Death” either.  Try the film out.  If for no other reason than to check out  Rollins’ soft spoken killer.

He Never Died (2015) The Secret Is in the Sauce (Review)

Written and directed by Jason Krawczyk He Never Died stars Henry Rollins (Sons of Anarchy, Con Man) and while it is publicized as a dramedy/thriller, it feels more like a supernatural drama without the thriller and the comedy is of the blackest sort. The film is dark and odd and one of those features that is impossible to stop watching.

Henry Rollins and Jordan Todosey

Written and directed by Jason Krawczyk  He Never Died stars Henry Rollins (Sons of Anarchy, Con Man) and while it is publicized as a dramedy/thriller, it feels more like a supernatural drama without the thriller and the comedy is of the blackest sort. The film is dark and odd and one of those features that is impossible to stop watching.

Rollins, whom I’d never seen before a couple of episodes of Stitchers and Alan Tudyk‘s Con Manplays “Jack” and this quiet man, who never leaves his apartment except for food, hides a mysterious past and has a penchant for doing violence to people who vex him. 

Jack’s daughter Andrea (Jordan Todosey) stops by but does not stay and Jack has his supply interrupted when his deliveryman is kidnapped. Andrea’s mother asks that he pick her up from a bar and the two attempt to bond. 

There is a sort of “love interest” in the waitress Cara (Kate Greenhouse) and the local villain is played by Steven Ogg. As the film progresses we learn that Jack is a morose and incredibly bored chap.  Hints to his past crop up here and there and it appears that the man has been around a very long time. 

Andrea: So… the civil war, what was that like?

Jack: I don’t know, I was in china…

Jack has been around so long in fact that he is beyond jaded and last had sex when Andrea was conceived. His daughter is around 19 and not a poster child for sobriety or polite conversation:

Andrea: I, uh, don’t have money, so…

Jack: Then, how did you end up inebriated?

Andrea: Vaginas are like coupon books for alcohol.

He Never Died is amusing and Rollins is picture perfect as the character who has been on the earth practically since it’s birth and is patently bored out of his mind. Nothing motivates him until his blood supply is stopped, he also does not get overly excited about Andrea being kidnapped and threatened with death.

Perhaps the most comic bits have to do with Rollins’ deadpan delivery, only broken a few times, and his equally monotonous reaction to the violence perpetrated against his character.  Despite being an immortal Jack bleeds and bullets damage him.  He is immensely strong and the only thing to drop him in his tracks is poison, although that is not fatal.

Todosey make an interesting double act for some of the film and the “romance” between Greenhouse’s character and Jack is amusingly unrequited.  The film shows that Jack is just not interested in people, sex, or relationships.

While we learn that Jack is pretty much indestructible (although he can be hurt) and immortal, it is not until the last reel of the film that the revelation is made of who he  actually is. That information is only made really clear after Jack rants at the Goatee Man (Don Francks) in Alex’s (Ogg) bar. 

The film consists of long slow and oblique scenes which are intercut with violence.  Jack drinks human blood because he is cursed to roam the land forever since his murdered his brother.  Oddly, while Jack is meant to be Cain, there are signs that he once had wings that have been removed.

He Never Died is not a five star film. Krawczyk delivers an odd, quirky black comedy about the world’s first murderer and his eternal punishment.  The film offers food for thought, if one looks for it, in that it seems to imply that Earth really is Hell.

It also feels as though the secret of Jack is in the sauce (blood) that he drinks to keep from munching on his neighbors. There are a few times that he does eat “meat” but only the odd individual is chomped up and this seems to be the bored and angry man’s attempt at  atonement.

This is a 3.5  out of 5  stars, losing 1.5 for the storyline being so oblique that it looks ages for the backstory of Jack to sink in. Rollins kills it as the bored monster doomed to consume his fellow man and the rest of the cast perform  well.

He Never Died is streaming on Netflix at the moment and worth a look. If for no other reason to se Rollins as a monster.

Stitchers: Full Stop Preview & Emma Ishta Talks Season Finale

SALLI RICHARDSON-WHITFIELD, DAMON DAYOUB in Full Stop
Anyone who has been watching Stitchers from episode one will be full fledged fans at this point. The season finale airs on August 4 and is titled Full Stop. Emma Ishta fans can read her exclusive interview for MikesFilmTalk at the bottom of this preview. For those viewers who are not anglophiles or English, “full stop” is Queen’s English for the end of a sentence, aka period. With all the reveals that take place in the series’ season finish the title is not just apt but clever.

The latest episode, Future Tense was, for all intents and purposes, quite light-hearted, a pause for the viewer before the world of Kirsten gets darker and more disturbing. In Full Stop, all roads do indeed lead to Ms. Clark but they do not stop there despite the rather final sounding episode title.

In Full Stop much is revealed about Kirsten and quite a lot is uncovered about her co-worker Dr. Goodkin. Before the final credits roll, an item seen in an earlier stitch shows up before the opening credits and another turns up just before the end credits. Kirsten discovers that she had a “guardian angel,” Camille gets an opportunity to get on a “Fisher” roll (watch the episode, it will make sense) and a chance to practice what Cameron has taught her. The detective goes against Les Turner’s wishes and is later shot. Linus identifies Ed’s key, and he, along with Camille and Kirsten, find out where the key fits.

Detective Fisher, prior to being shot, is told by Turner that discovering who killed Ed Clark is not an option. Reluctantly, Fisher tells the big boss that he will leave the case alone, but Turner is not fooled and he tells Maggie so. Later, Fisher wants to tell Kirsten about Les at a restaurant. Camille and Cameron were invited and Quincy is clearly annoyed.

When Cameron shows up late, and Fisher reacts badly to his presence, Camille drags Kirsten off to the lady’s room. While the two are inside, and Camille continues her Fisher riff, shots are heard and rushing back into the restaurant the girls find three bodies on the floor around their table; Fisher, with blood on his chest, Cameron and a waitress.

The show then has its first stitch, Kirsten in the dead waitress to see who the shooter was, and Cameron, who was injured, decides he needs a backup and he chooses Camille. This goes over like a lead balloon with his best bud Linus and after last week’s Camille storyline (dinner with the parents) their closeness is strained and she is surprised to find Linus reacting so badly.

Camille and Cameron talk about how odd it is that Kirsten does so well at stitching and he reveals that out of all the volunteers who tried only Marta could do it. They then do a stitch simulation, all hands on hands and thumbs touching and Linus comes in. He is not happy although it appears it is less about the “getting physical” aspect and more about Camille not being “qualified.” When Linus questions Cameron about his choice of back-up, Linus is told he lacks “finesse.”

After the waitress stitch, Kirsten and Camille do a composite and Maggie recognizes the features of the shooter, Robert Barbiero (Henry Rollins) who worked with the Stitchers program 20 years previously. The man was close to Clark’s mother and father.

As the episode progresses, Kirsten learns that she was not born with Temporal Dysphasia and she learns a lot more about her father (C. Thomas Howell), mother and Barbiero and some surprising things about her childhood. One unexpected bit of information has to do with a fellow Stitchers team member and an encounter that, apparently, neither of them remember.

Stitchers feels a lot like an ensemble piece, and it is to a degree just that, but everything revolves around Emma Ishta’s Kirsten Clark. As season one has progressed, it began to look as though the young lady was “born to stitch” or made to stitch (the implication being that her destiny had been programmed, for lack of a better word) and all the team were connected to Ms. Clark.

The known connections are: Maggie and Les Turner through Ed Clark, mother, father and the stitchers program and Camille; who as her roommate was hired by Maggie to spy on Kirsten. Thus far, the only immediate team member who does not “have a history” with Kirsten is Linus, as well as new team member Detective Quincy Fisher; he only met Kirsten when Ed Clark died.

As the final episode progresses, Kirsten learns a lot more about her past, most of the information is revealing and disturbing…it is also quite touching. However, for all these lump inducing moments in the episode, the show has turned even darker in the area of the stitchers program. A man killed purposefully, to act as a stitch message machine, and the possibility that Fisher was shot (At Turner’s orders or someone else’s?) to keep him from looking into Ed Clark’s murder both point to an even darker and more disturbing side to the organization.

Just as disturbing is Kirsten’s decision to lie to everyone else on the Stitchers team…except for Cameron.

For all the revelations in the finale, more questions are left unanswered. Whose voice is on that phone? Who was in the car? What was the connection between Barbiero and Kirsten’s mother and father?

This episode has some pretty intense moments as well as some emotional ones (check out the montage of memories toward the end) and the tension is cranked to the limit before those end credits roll.

“Team Stitchers” (the actors, crew, writers and creator Jeff Schechter) have pulled out all stops to give us a finale that crackles with electricity, emotion and suspense. The usual pop culture references are there (and has a RoboCop quote used twice and, oh man, the second time will induce a lump in your throat) and while the comic relief has been pulled back for this episode, it is still in evidence…just.

The Stitchers season finale airs August 4 on ABC Family. Do not miss this event, if you are not a fan yet, start watching now and get caught up. Quality television like this does not happen very often. For those who are fans already, read on to hear Emma Ishta‘s thoughts on the finale.

Emma Ishta as Kirsten Clark in Stitchers
Emma Ishta as Kirsten Clark in Stitchers

WARNING: Some of the questions and answers in the interview come dangerously close to spoiler territory…Just saying.

MikesFilmTalk: Hi Emma, thanks for chatting with MikesFilmTalk about the season finale of Stitchers! First of all, congratulations on getting a second season!

Emma: Thank you, we’re all very excited about the second season and the chance to learn more about Kirsten.

MikesFilmTalk: Well, I just finished watching the episode and…Wow. [Emma laughs] I know you have to be careful about spoilers and things, but right off the bat, I’ve got to ask…How great did it feel for Kirsten to “take charge” in the final stitch of the episode, overriding Maggie…

Emma: I think she felt pretty great about it! There has been a bit of conflict between them from the start. So when she took over it was very satisfying, I think.

MikesFilmTalk: All roads really do lead back to Kirsten…and Cameron…and…seemingly, everyone but Linus. Is he suddenly going to pop up with some sort of connection?

Emma: Wow, that ‘s interesting that you brought that up. I had not realized that there was not a connection between the two…We will, hopefully learn more about everyone else in the second season, Camille and Linus (and their relationship) and all the other team members. We’ll also, hopefully, learn more about Linus. He may still turn out to have a history with Kirsten, you never know.

MikesFilmTalk: Assuming that you are pretty much in the dark about plot arc and reveals…how surprising was it to learn about all those reveals? And what about the Cameron connection?

Emma Ishta: That was surprising. I was sort of aware of all the other “hidden” connections, like the Stitchers program, Maggie and so on, but the Cameron and Kirsten connection was new. In terms of the characters, I don’t believe Kirsten was aware of it and, oddly enough, I don’t think the character of Cameron, was aware of it either. Which puts a different spin on the information and their relationship.

MikesFilmTalk: Now what about Kirsten’s mum…It is obvious, isn’t it, that she is going to be the one talking to Barbiero on the phone and she is in the car…

Emma: That’s an interesting idea, I hadn’t thought of that…

MikesFilmTalk: Well, in a stitch later in the episode, you end up in a memory of a young Barbiero looking at young Kirsten and her mother. The second you touch your mum’s arm in the stitch you wind up right back in the alley with Barbiero…

Emma: Wow…that would be interesting, I really haven’t thought in that direction at all. But you know, in the stitches, Kirsten does really get pulled around a lot and pushed in different directions.

MikesFilmTalk: Agreed. Right, final question. How much fun has it been to play Kirsten?

Emma: I’ve really enjoyed making this journey with her and holding Kirsten’s hand, so to speak, through everything she’s been going through.

MikesFilmTalk: “We’ve enjoyed the journey right along with you! You really brought Kirsten to life. Thanks for the chat!”

Stitchers Full Stop August 4, ABC Family. Be there.