John Smith is an amoral gunslinger in the days of Prohibition. On the lam from his latest (unspecified) exploits, he happens upon the town of Jericho, Texas. Actually, calling Jericho a town would be too generous–it has become more like a ghost town, since two warring gangs have ‘driven off all the decent folk.’ Smith sees this as an opportunity to play both sides off against each other, earning himself a nice piece of change as a hired gun. Despite his strictly avowed mercenary intentions, he finds himself risking his life for his, albeit skewed, sense of honor….
Tad Dibbern <[email protected]>
User Reviews: For Last Man Standing, director Walter Hill relocates Kurosawa’s Yojimbo to depression era America in a dusty desert town. There is something arguably distinctive about the flick. Perhaps it is the merger of gangster and western; something seldom seen in movies. Or perhaps it is the way that Hill’s visual portrayal of a time and place seems flawless. Last Man Standing has an exceptionally retro look to it, very crusty and dusty, and also very macho.
The problem with Last Man Standing comes down to it’s roots. Once you’ve seen Yojimbo, Last Man Standing doesn’t feel all that special. Hill never chooses to break free of the Kurosawa structure, so his film is predictable from the get go. Having said that, even if you know the outcome of the trip, part of the journey is worth while. As an action film, Last Man Standing delivers in spectacular fashion. The fight scenes are staged with a sense of gusto and texture; something is often denied to the majority of such scenes in other movies.
When Last Man Standing is in adrenaline mode it works, but when it comes to the talky segments, it feels painfully stiff. The acting style is flat, and everybody delivers their lines with the same sour expression, which Hill seems quite fond of considering how many facial close ups he uses.
In the end, the movie has a little something to offer. It’s recommendable on some grounds, but it needs a bit more brain and less brawn.