Netflix Review – The Last Days of American Crime: The Length is Criminal

Well, they could not have timed this film worse, on many levels.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s sometime in the future and Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) is a career thief. Unfortunately for him, the US is rolling out the American Peace Initiative (API), a device that sends out a signal that makes it fundamentally impossible for people to do things that are illegal. Bricke is recruited by Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), the son of a major crime family, to help his hacker girlfriend Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster) find out where the government is liquidating a ton of currency in preparation for a transfer to digital commerce and steal a billion dollars. They then plan on fleeing to Canada right before the API goes live so that they can spend the money, because spending stolen goods is, itself, a crime that the API prevents. Meanwhile, William Sawyer (Sharlto Copley), a policeman in the last days of police, is trying to deal with the changing of Law Enforcement and trying to make up for some mistakes. 

Ah yes, you can tell he’s a criminal because he’s meticulously coiffed.


F*cking hell, this movie is a waste of potential. I’m not sure I really should have expected better from a director who mostly specializes in taking franchises on after they’re already successful (Transporter 3, Taken 2, Taken 3), but I feel like Olivier Megaton (cool name, though) just did not know how to craft a story. I also think he didn’t have anyone telling him “no” enough on set. 

Like, maybe don’t introduce your female lead with dirty bathroom sex.

This movie is 149 minutes. To put that in perspective, you can watch the original Frankenstein twice and make a drink. What We Do In the Shadows is an hour shorter. The Dark Knight is roughly the same length and has like… I dunno… 7 acts in it? This movie is way too long, is my point. You’d think that in 149 minutes there would be enough time to play with the, admittedly really interesting, premise… but no, not really. There’s not a lot of debate about the morality of forcing people to obey, nor any real consideration of why people are okay with this in America, or even what the hell happened that made this seem necessary. I’d even take a joke about the fact that having politicians subject to a wave that makes illegal conduct impossible would mean there’s no chance in hell this passed Congress. Bribery would, presumably, be covered in the no-no list (although wage theft, being civil, would still be kosher). Instead, the movie really just uses the API for a few scenes in which the police use it on targets and to give the movie a ticking clock. 

Are you telling me the gun industry was okay with this?

You’d think a lack of exploration would mean that the film focused on character development or plot, but you would be wrong. Bricke has two facial expressions and they both suck. Rather than worry about things like explaining the heist or having developed characters, the movie instead decides to try to have a large number of action set pieces… that are unbelievably generic and forgettable. At least Extraction went big and bold with its action sequences, but this film just kind of forgets to push any particular envelope.

There’s a lot of just firing guns while screaming.

Another big problem with this movie is that they released it during a wide-scale protest about police violence and the film contains a number of instances of police violence, including a scene in which guards use API to disable a criminal and then beat him to death as he lies there helpless. 

This… I’m just not touching this one.

Really the only thing that stands out in the film is Michael Pitt’s performance, because he DOES go all out at points, just being a complete and utter sociopath at times. However, that really just drives home how painfully uninteresting and bland the rest of the characters are. 

At least he’s trying.

Overall, I can’t recommend this one. If it was 60 minutes shorter, it might have been tolerable, but it isn’t. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Halloween Review – Funny Games (2007): The Scariest Thing Is Us

A fourth-wall breaking movie about two psychopaths playing with a random family. It’s a comedy, clearly.


George Farber (Tim Roth), his wife Ann (Naomi Watts), and their son Georgie (Devon Gearheart) are staying at their lake house for a vacation. When they arrive, they discover that their neighbor Fred (Boyd Gaines) has a few guests, Peter and Paul (Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt). The two new guests come over to borrow some eggs, but they end up making the Farbers feel uncomfortable. When finally asked to leave, the pair attack the Farbers and hold them hostage, torturing them physically and psychologically and all because it’s fun for them, and for the audience. Peter frequently discusses film trends and tropes, while Paul literally breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. 

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And yes, the bad guys are dressed like ultra-yuppies.


This is a remake of the 1997 film of the same name, but it was by the same director, Michael Haneke. The only major differences are budget, language, and the caliber of actors involved. Not that the cast in the original Austrian film are bad, quite the contrary, but the cast here really sell the film. While the violence is, if not toned down, then at least changed a bit, most of the scenes in this movie are lifted directly from the original, from the lines (albeit translated) to the camera angles to the sets. While that might sound like Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, let me assure you that this movie is actually good. Also, Haneke’s copying himself, so I think that doesn’t count as a rip-off.

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And both are amazingly well-shot. 

The big thing about this movie is that it’s pretty much designed to be the opposite of expectations. That’s exactly what Haneke was going with in the original and this carries the same theme. The idea behind the movie is that it’s violent, but there is no underlying meaning or purpose to anything in the film. It’s supposed to be a critique of violence in media being meritless, and how we somehow forgive certain violent acts in film as long as they’re done in the “right” way. We’re fine with Clint Eastwood gunning down a town full of people or watching Jason Vorhees massacre a group of horny teens, because those are the “approved” kinds of violence. In modern narratives, violence is permissible as long as it’s either redemptive (i.e. John McClane dropping Hans Gruber off of a skyscraper) or punitive (i.e. the T-Rex eating the bad guys), but this film defies that by having all of the violence enacted upon pretty much innocent people for no reason. 

FunnyGames - 6GeorgieBag

Beyond that, the movie doesn’t try to get us to blame the two sociopaths for doing these things, but instead has Paul keep winking at the camera, literally, and ask us what we want, pointing out that the reason why there’s so much violence in the media is because we desire that. Moreover, it asks us to ask ourselves WHY we desire it? What the hell is wrong with us that we’re not disturbed by watching John Wayne kill thirty men, even if they deserved it? If we’re justifying it by saying those people aren’t real, then why would it disturb us when these people are tortured and murdered in this film? The point of this movie is that we really need to ask ourselves why we’re so okay with violence. As a fan of action and horror movies, I usually just say it’s part of a natural catharsis, but it’s not like this isn’t a question people have asked for millennia. This is just a fairly original way to ask it again.

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Yes, he’s literally asking you a question. It’s awesome.

The reason why this works so well is because this movie is really well done. Any art film can ask a philosophical question and pretend that it’s deep, but Michael Haneke focused on making an intense and interesting film first, then building the message organically into the story. The cinematography is first class, the dialogue is compelling despite being awkward, and the performances are all great. A weirdly notable thing about the movie is that nobody looks good in it. Everyone looks like they’re under stress and half-beaten when they’re supposed to be, but not in the way that Hollywood actors usually portray “tired.” These people look like they’re at the ends of their ropes, and I appreciate that they were willing to be shot that way, like they’re actual humans in this situation. 

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Yes, even the kid can look like crap. It’s weird that this is rare.

This is a horror movie, but it’s not a traditional one. Even the director says it wasn’t intended to be, but what else would you call a movie that not only shows you something revolting, but leads you to ask yourself why you wanted to watch that? Really, I recommend everyone watch this at least once, because it truly is a unique movie… except that there are two of them, I guess. 

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Also, they both include the best use of a remote in film.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.