The Last Man (2019)
Hayden Christensen stars in the latest apocalyptic movie, The Last Man, which tries desperately to say something important but misses the mark. Come inside for my full review!
Hayden Christensen and Harvey Keitel star in this new apocalyptic "thriller?" Is that the term I'm looking for? No...Religious thriller might fit the bill, but that doesn't seem quite right either. Maybe it's more of a drama with a science fiction slant? The Last Man isn't easy to categorize and there are a few times throughout the movie where it seems the filmmakers themselves struggled to figure it out as well.
It's not exactly a post-apocalypse movie, as much of the point is about preparing for the impending armageddon, so it's something of a pre-apocalypse setting because things are pretty awful. From the start, it's clear that things in the world have taken a turn for the worse. Between war and viruses, civilization has taken a really big hit and things are continuously spiraling downward.
All this information is relayed to audiences early on via monologue from Christensen's Kurt. Kurt is a former soldier, haunted by dreams of the war he fought in (and the friends he lost), and suffers from PTSD. While he mentions being a "Survivor" and knowing nothing else, it's clear he's struggling to find a reason to move forward in this hellish/grim future.
When he crosses paths with Noe (Keitel) a Priest behind a movement who believes the end of the world is near and wants to escape with people, Kurt finds himself caught up in the fervor. As he begins preparing for world’s end, he takes a security job and begins to have some semblance of a normal life.
Even as the world is falling apart, Kurt finally seems to be getting his own life back together and he finds himself happier and even falling in love with his boss’ daughter (played by Liz Solari). As things begin to improve for him, he still harbors the belief that armageddon is around the corner and spends his time/money converting his family home into a secure bunker/shelter. When things seem to be going okay, he’s accused of stealing money from his (mob boss) employer and must find a way to clear his name and save the woman he loves…
Are you a little confused? Don’t fret, that’s pretty much how I felt throughout the entire film. The Last Man seemingly jumps around a handful of plot points without ever feeling like they focus on a specific one. They vaguely come together near the end, but there still feels like so many gaps missing.
It’s like a hodgepodge of different stories mashed together into one. You, ostensibly, have a story about a war veteran overcoming his PTSD and learning to regain control of his life and happiness. But then, it tries to throw in the apocalypse/prophecy story that shows him as a man growing into faith. Once you get there, it tries to throw a love story into the mix, and then wraps up with a badass out for revenge sequence of events…
The problem is none of these elements feel properly fleshed out. For example, we go from some flirting in the office, to Jessica confronting Kurt in his home about stealing the money only to be making love seconds later. There was no real build-up to their relationship and by the end of the film, we’re supposed to believe that they’re destiny bound to one another.
I appreciate how they handled the PTSD side of the story and think Christensen did a great job in his portrayal, but sadly, the script doesn’t give him much to work with. While the performances from everyone seemed just fine and dandy, everything still felt flat and (mostly) lifeless due to the story being told. The same goes for the film’s overall design aesthetic. It paints a great picture of the stark reality facing the characters and the coming end of days, but a solid backdrop does little without a great story to go with it.