No amount of cowboy bravado could pump life into director Naveen Chathappuram’s debut film. On paper, The Last Victim should be a knockout Western thriller fueled by high-speed chases, gruesome shootouts, and comfortably familiar stoicism, but despite its promise, the film is a tangled mess of lukewarm plotlines that fails to captivate. Filled with uninspired performances and listless dialogues, it only presents a single absorbing mystery: “What just happened?”
For fans of classic Westerns, The Last Victim’s central plot is commonplace for the genre. The film follows small-town Sheriff Herman Hickey (Ron Perlman) as he tracks down a group of outlaws led by the stone-faced antagonist, Jake (Ralph Ineson), who is responsible for the senselessly heinous massacre that opens the film. This proverbial Western plot is complicated when a professor (Ali Larter) and her husband (Tahmoh Penikett) cross paths with the outlaw gang. Suddenly caught in Jake’s unintelligibly brutal rampage, the movie begins to feel like a pointless game of cat and mouse until this violent carousel of pursuits finally comes to a stop.
Tethered by the theme of revenge, this film attempts to expose the vulnerable underbelly of grief as the characters become enveloped by a horror-like game of survival. Instead, The Last Victim delivers a story with whiplash-inducing pacing and an ensemble of underdeveloped characters that will easily be forgotten. The film requires the audience to string together incoherent and fruitless plots that supposedly lead to the conclusion of some hidden motivation or mystery. This is simply asking too much. The movie holds some potential to foster a cult following, but overall, The Last Victim is a tepid action thriller that is carried almost exclusively by Perlman’s sonorous monologues, but even he seems bored. 103 min.