Movie Review: The Last Heist—Serially Confused

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All too often the media gets the idea of a serial killer and a mass murderer mixed up. A serial killer is somebody who kills two or more victims for abnormal psychological reasons, usually with a “cooling off” period in-between murders. A mass murderer is somebody who kills four or more people at once with no “cooling off” period. Despite his penchant for elaborately slaying sexed up teenagers, Jason Voorhees is a mass murderer, not a serial killer. The rationale for this being that if he didn’t get inexplicably defeated at the end of each movie he would just go on killing indiscriminately.

Somebody should have explained this to director Mike Mendez before he began making The Last Heist, a below mediocre film with an above average concept: during a bank heist a group of criminals discover that one of their hostages is a serial killer. This alone could make for a triple AAA thriller, the robbers trying to figure out what’s going on as their number gets picked off by an unstoppable killer.

Mendez’s killer is a psychotic preacher named Bernard, brilliantly played by hardcore punk idol Henry Rollins. His shtick is removing the eyes of his victims as trophies, earning him the nickname “The Windows Killer.” Get it? (Eyes are the window of the soul.) Bernard dramatically monologues this tidbit no less than three times as he looms over the bodies of three different victims. He gleefully stabs and slices his way through an assortment of robbers and fellow hostages, always taking their eyes for good measure. Like the aforementioned Voorhees, he doesn’t try to escape but simply disappears and materializes whenever the script needs him to kill somebody. Here’s the problem: if he’s a mass murderer, why would he take trophies; if he was a serial killer, why would he stick around to kill everyone instead of just trying to escape? Yes, Hannibal Lector was a serial killer who mass murdered people in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), but it was always so he could escape the authorities. He didn’t stop to actually eat the hapless security guards before getting out of Dodge. Later in the film Bernard takes on an armed elite government operative with his bare hands so don’t tell me he couldn’t have just strolled through the front lobby, killed everyone, and fled before the cops arrived.

I’m being frustratingly pedantic but there’s very little to say about this film. It wastes a good idea by turning it into a B-plot while a whole mess of narrative shenanigans go on with the robbers. Oh, one of them is the brother of one of the bank employees! Oh, and they’re both ex-military (better take some time to monologue about how they are two sides of the same coin)! Oh, it turns out the bank is actually owned by Mexican cartels! Oh, actually those helpful government agents who came to help were actually cartel stooges! And so on, and so on, and so on. What should have been Friday the 13th: Jason Takes the Assault on Precinct 13 all too often becomes a hammy soap opera.

4/10

Nathanael Hood is a 27 year old film critic currently based out of South Florida with a passion for all things cinematic. He graduated from New York University - Tisch with a degree in Film Studies. He is currently a writer for the Turkish Journal of American Studies, TopTenz.net, and his personal film blog http://forgottenclassicsofyesteryear.blogspot.com/. You can contact him via email at nathanael@theyoungfolks.com. Follow him on Twitter: @natehood257 and Tumblr: filmsfoodandfandom.tumblr.com