Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charlie Hunnam, Morena Baccarin, Lucy Fry, Dominic Monaghan, Cliff "Method Man" Smith, Clancy Brown, Rupert Friend, Mel Gibson
Written by: Howard Michael Gould, based on his novel
Directed by: Tim Kirkby
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language
Running Time: 111
Date: 02/04/2022

Last Looks (2022)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Detective Unconscious

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This comic detective story ranks several notches below others of its ilk, but it's bright and spirited and well-told, and with an appealing approach to its laid-back, kooky humor and silly characters.

Disgraced ex-police detective Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam) has taken to living a minimalist lifestyle — he's vowed to own only 100 things — in a trailer in the woods. One day, on-again-off-again lover and private detective Lorena Nascimento (Morena Baccarin) shows up and offers him a job in Hollywood, which he refuses.

But then Lorena disappears, and a trade magazine announces that Waldo has taken the job, he heads into L.A. to find out what's going on. He meets the murder suspect, popular TV actor Alastair Pinch (Mel Gibson), who has been accused of killing his wife, but was too drunk to remember what happened. Waldo decides to take the case, but the deeper he gets into the investigation, the screwier things become.

Veteran TV writer Howard Michael Gould adapted his own 2018 novel — the first of three Charlie Waldo books so far — and has created a fun character for Last Looks that we'd like to see again. Hunnam plays him as a bearded guru, largely unaffected by the craziness around him. In one sequence, while in L.A., he gets a phone call from a mysterious voice, telling him to meet in his trailer. In a montage, he gets on his bike, rides, catches a bus, rides some more, stops to urinate, and finally arrives at his trailer, only to get punched in the face (again). Yet it barely perturbs him. Then, the same montage, in reverse, to get back to L.A.

Other characters are just as fun, including a criminal who has written an epic poem, and a rapper called "Swag Doggg" (Method Man), celebrated for his innovative use of an extra "g." Even Gibson — his offscreen troubles aside — clearly has a ball playing a foppish English dandy who plays a drawling Southern judge on his hit TV show, and manages both accents swimmingly.

If the movie has a downside, it's that the comedy also glosses over the actual murder, and there seems to be no realistic reaction to the death. Nothing really seems to matter. Alistair's young daughter doesn't even seem to mourn her mother. But, as a minor whodunit with some genuine giggles, Last Looks is still worth a glance.

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