Sometimes the worst part about watching a movie is witnessing the chips fall into place, carving out the best possible route it can for success and then completely trip over the LAST hurdle. That’s how it felt watching “Last Looks”.
And that baffles me to such a degree because most of the ingredients are there: a star-studded cast that delivers scene-chewing performances across the board with only a few quirky characters standing out amongst the poorly implemented stereotypes. Adequate staging is kept in mind to make room for sturdy, if not, loose cinematography and editing I would consider satisfactory. Whenever the film leans towards comedy, it strikes a complementary balance with the characters’ outsized personalities, the atmosphere of the film is clearly caricatured alongside the TV-like aesthetic (I’m convinced they meant to do that) to keep up it looking mildly jaunty with ok music, decent production design and an intriguing contemporary noir mystery at its core. Sure, just having to rifle itself through the very standard beats of the genre results in a mystery that comes off contrived in more than a few places but the story is hardly incoherent and I can see the attempt being made to make it interesting with the former top detective ghosting himself from society and this case forcing him to reconnect with the people around him and reconfigure his past priorities.
You know the two biggest problems that nearly turned me off from this? Presentation and pacing.
Despite being rooted in the classic mold of the whodunnit and glistening with a few bursts of vivid personality, the film rarely gets to showcase such a thing because for 70 percent of this runtime, it’s almost barebonely straight-faced. Satirization only really comes in when it dissects the silliness surrounding the tragedy of the case and the few running gags utilized to their favor don’t do enough to mask how uniformly pointless many of these events are; that also ties itself into why the tone belies any satirical intentions in its main story, why the dialogue remains so dull and lacking throughout instead of piping in some snappy wise cracks and pithy one liners and how the turgid pacing almost drags the story out into nothingness so it hardly takes advantage of itself.
The film takes itself so deathly serious that the few times the mold is broken by posturing cartoon characters or Mel Gibsons funky accent, it just comes off more stupid instead of fun.
Sad to say, it comes off as a tepid exercise in genre posturing. It’s a solid foundation and the film luckily is engaging enough to distract me from how formulaic it is but when the cracks show, it’s attempts at laid-back satirical bolstering just pollute the airwaves more than it helps. The lack of balance between the two budding styles became infuriating the more I thought back to it.