1996’s Last Man Standing is one of those movies that, on paper, looks like it should be an absolute winner. Bruce Willis plays the nameless hero/antihero who goes, for the sake of convenience, by the name of John Smith. Christopher Walken is suitably unsettling as Hickey, the only credible threat to Smith’s supremacy with a firearm. The rest of the cast is decent. The film looks stylish, shot in mood enhancing sepia tones and the film draws on strong source material – being a remake of the much-lauded Japanese movie Yojimbo, which also served as the inspiration for A Fistful of Dollars.
This particular take on the theme of the nameless stranger who takes on all comers, also takes an interesting deviation from the classic western it could have been, instead moving the action to the prohibition era. It’s still set in a ‘one-horse town’ but the bad-guys are booze running gangsters. It’s an interesting take on the theme, and again, on paper, a gangster/Western mash-up sounds quite promising in a leave-your-brain-at-the-door kind of way.
So it should be pretty good right? Bruce Willis in his heyday, taking on Christopher Walken in a shoot-em-up sounds like a lot of fun. Sure, it’s not going to win any awards, but for just over a hundred minutes it should be guaranteed entertainment.
And that’s the problem with Last Man Standing. It isn’t much fun. It’s a bit boring really. For a movie that comes in well under two hours, it feels a lot longer.
It’s not really a bad film, there’s nothing wrong with any of the performances, it looks pretty good and the movie pretty much delivers the story you’d be expecting from the outset. There are no surprises, no clever twists, and that’s all fine because surely no-one is watching this movie other than as pure mindless escapism. But, sadly, there really isn’t much of that on offer either.