Last Call (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

What do you expect from a straight-to-Canadian-video film directed by a guy who never directed a feature film, written by and starring a guy who currently runs a nightclub in Toronto?

You know what? It doesn't suck. Not a bit. These guys actually know what they are doing.

  • The script showed some real thought. It had an interesting plot where the lead characters get into trouble that they can't get out of, and you wonder what will happen. The characters are consistent, and developed in great depth. The dialogue was interesting, Tarantinoesque banter, or at least the dumb guy equivalent. (Did McDonald's sponsor the OJ killings?). There were some quirky minor characters for comic relief. Things tied together pretty well.
  • The director used some solid technique to maintain the palpable tension throughout the critical finale, and to keep the film interesting before that point. The editing of the sound and video is truly excellent, on a level with Soderbergh's work. (The director got his training doing commercials.)
  • Some of the actors are obviously amateurs, but some of them are also damned good, especially Phil Morrison (the nightclub owner who also wrote the script)

I was honestly impressed. And shocked that it was that good.

THE PLOT: Two really dumb street guys borrow some money to help a nun keep the bank from foreclosing on a schoolhouse/orphanage. Problem is that they borrow the money from a Mob guy, and they have no way to pay it back. So they try robbery. The hold up a couple of small inner-city stores, get a couple hundred bucks each time, and despair over their ability to get enough. They decide to pull off something big. One of them is smart enough to know that they can't rob a bank or a post office, so they try to figure out something unconventional with very little security, and settle on robbing a hot nightclub after the Saturday closing.


One little problem. They have no idea how to do this kind of thing, an alarm is tripped, and they find themselves inside the downtown club surrounded by dozens of cop cars and mob guys. You see, the mob guy that they need to repay also owns the club, and they end up holding his daughter hostage! They can't surrender, they can't shoot their way out. No matter what they do, even if they go to prison, they are dead men. They are really decent guys at heart, albeit dumb, and even their hostages can see that. After all, they did it so a nun could keep her orphanage open. Not exactly your typical hard-core criminals.

Given the budget of approximately zero, these filmmakers really did a good job. This is one of the better indies I've seen in the past couple years, spoiled only by some amateur acting and the last thirty seconds of the movie.

(SPOILER: One of the two guys has a death wish, and he's been talking to his dead brother throughout the movie. He decides to sacrifice himself at the end, creating a diversion to let his partner escape. That was cool. The partner did get away, and was hitchhiking out of town, when he got a ride from the other guy's dead brother. Say what? Not sure what that is supposed to mean, other than he must be dead himself, I guess. Confusing and corny. Had to be a better way to end it than that.)

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Standard 4:3 version only

  • There is even a brief making-of featurette

  • cast bios

In some ways this is a more interesting and human film than the very similar "Albino Alligator", which had real actors, a healthy budget, and was directed by Kevin Spacey. You will actually keep watching "Last Call", wondering what the hell these two morons can possibly do to escape the trap. You will have great empathy for them.

The filmmakers never got a distribution deal for this film, but keep an eye on director Sean Buckley. I don't know who he is. Neither does IMDb. But I know he has some talent, and may make real movies someday soon.

Here is an interesting story about the making of this movie.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews

The People Vote ...

  • not listed at IMDb

My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Solid genre pic, despite a zero budget. Too bad no widescreen version on the DVD.

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