Note: Credited as a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, Last Man Standing gives us an even more modern American flavor than Fistful of Dollars of the Japanese tale.
Directed by Walter Hill (Dead for a Dollar, Geronimo: An American Legend)
Written by Walter Hill
Cinematography Lloyd Ahern
Music by Ry Cooder(Geronimo: An American Legend, Paris, Texas)
Produced by Walter Hill, Arthur M. Sarkissian
Starring Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Alexandra Powers, David Patrick Kelly, Karina Lombard, Bruce Dern, Ned Eisenberg
“Everybody ends up dead; it’s just a matter of when.”
No, this isn’t the feel-good sitcom starring Tim Allen. This is a gritty, dirty shoot ‘em up with a Western vibe starring Bruce Willis. If you’re in the mood for a no nonsense, action-packed flick, look no further than Last Man Standing. John Smith (Willis), equipped with a pair of 1911s, is a lone drifter who has stumbled upon the unassuming town of Jericho. Due to a war between two bootlegging gangs, Jericho has only a few businesses remaining, with the most successful one being that of the undertaker. With the lack of law and order, Smith sees an opportunity to make money. Smith has no morals, other than making money and occasionally feeling bad for a damsel in distress. He plays both sides of the gang war, working for both Doyle (Kelly) and Strozzi (Eisenberg). Who wins makes no difference to Smith.
Gratifyingly throughout, we get to see multiple assailants being launched by the impact of Smith’s .45s, much like one would expect the impact of a cannon to deliver. Realistic? No, but who cares? It’s a movie after all where the “protagonist” kills over twenty men doublehandedly. In an age where Marvel and DC have overtaken the box office, this movie hardly embellishes. Don’t let some of the gun antics distract you from the strong characters played by Willis and Walken, the latter playing a bona fide bad ass, Hickey.
Not to be outdone by his own characters, Walter Hill delivers with his script. The viewer will be regaled with exchanges much like: “You’re gonna have to kill me” and “It’ll hurt if I do.” For fans of the Western genre, you will enjoy the slower moments of dialogue with Smith and his counterparts, despite action fans getting their fill of gun fights. Last Man Standing may have lost money at the box office nearly thirty years ago, but I contend that this film is grossly underrated and widely overlooked, and is better than anything being released currently. Do yourself a favor. Don’t go to the theater. Stay home, and watch Last Man Standing!