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Ben Nagy reviews ‘The Last Heist’: Who’s more dangerous — the robbers with guns or the guy who carves out eyeballs?

We’re taking a brief one-review break from Kung Fu flicks to mark the 62nd Annual Henry Rollins Day that happened last week with a 2016 flick that features his most-recent lead starring role to date — The Last Heist.

Mike Mendez, director of Big Ass Spider! and Lavalantula, a couple of notable arachnid rampage flicks that drew viewers on the Syfy Channel back in the day, decided Rollins would be the perfect guy to have don the same glasses Michael Douglas wore in Falling Down, wear a suit and tie and carry a really sharp knife in a brown leather satchel whose only mission is to empty out his safety deposit box.

Pretty simple premise, except that the vault’s been targeted by a group of seven robbers who know that there’s a big stash of bearer bonds in there — $100 million or thereabout worth.

Wrinkle No. 2 is that Rollins’ character is Bernard, aka the Window Killer, who has at least 15 victims around the El Lay area. His calling card is that he snags their eyeballs as precious keepsakes to remember the good times he had. Since the local vault where he keeps his eyeball collection is closing, he doesn’t want to lose what he’s worked so hard to accumulate.

Fair enough. A serial killer probably would elevate acquiring and preserving victims’ eyeballs rather than, say, taking their wallets. BUT, the thing about the eyeball collecting aspect that I didn’t get was that a knife seems like one of the worst implements if you’re gonna do some ocular excisions.

First off, if the whole point is for the killer to get the eyeball intact, anyone who’s ever seen a Lucio Fulci movie knows that they’re prone to puncture. You’re really gonna run the risk of ruining the eyeball. Maybe it’s an experience thing — when Bernard was a beginner, he might have lost a few to puncture as he developed his extraction technique. I’m just thinking that a good spoon would have been an essential implement for him, provide superior leverage and less of a cutting edge, but then again, a guy menacing folks with a spoon loses some degree of the dramatic.

Anyway, Bernard’s wearing some black sunglasses while heading over to the vault and he stares down a van driver who gets real uncomfortable at the attention. The six people in the back of the van planning the robbery and are, in no particular order: Paul, the leader; A.J., the guy who has a conscience, kind of; Tracey, the belligerent and violent woman with cornrows; Washington, the guy who had some military experience; Ally, the blonde woman with the British accent; and Biggs, the muscle guy with tattoos.

Ben Nagy reviews 'The Last Heist': Who’s more dangerous — the robbers with guns or the guy who carves out eyeballs? 1
The robbers leave their van and head on over to rob the safety deposit vault in “The Last Heist.” (Photo courtesy IMDb.com)

Paul, the leader, says: “Soft target – no guards — nobody is getting shot today,” before they don skull masks and emerge in slow motion with M-4s and bust in to rob the place that has a grand total of two employees and three customers (including Bernard the killer).

While all the robbers are saying the F-word and are looking for Bernard, who seems to have disappeared, Danny, the assistant manager, recognizes Paul as his estranged brother. All of the robbers take their masks off since they figure their cover’s blown.

Tracey goes down to the vault to bust open some safety deposit boxes and to find the loot. Paul says “Echo” a lot. Like “Echo 3,” “Echo 4” to identify people even though they aren’t wearing their masks or using code names anymore. Some of the other criminals take the customers into another room and then Danny texts the cops.

Ben Nagy reviews 'The Last Heist': Who’s more dangerous — the robbers with guns or the guy who carves out eyeballs? 2
Detective Pascal (Victoria Pratt) takes on a group of armed criminals in “The Last Heist.” (Photo courtesy IMDb.com)

Detective Pascal gets radioed to respond to the scene, shows up with two cops and forgets her burrito and, well, Bernard just wants to take his eyeball collection home but things just got complicated for him. What’s a guy to do?

Ben Nagy reviews 'The Last Heist': Who’s more dangerous — the robbers with guns or the guy who carves out eyeballs? 3

Best Way to Stay Under the Radar if You’re a Serial-Killing Eyeball Collector: Bernard doesn’t get mail.

Ben Nagy reviews 'The Last Heist': Who’s more dangerous — the robbers with guns or the guy who carves out eyeballs? 4
Bernard, aka the Window Killer, (Henry Rollins) holds a knife to the throat of Tracey (Kristina Klebe) in “The Last Heist.” (Photo courtesy IMDb.com)

Best Diagnosis: Bernard to Tracey — “I estimate you have nine minutes to live. You should contemplate what you want to do with the rest of your life.” Then he slices her femoral artery as their fight continues. “You have three, maybe four minutes to live, but I’m no doctor. I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you.”

Best Way to Blow Things: Van driver Rick does coke while waiting for the crooks to finish their heist, leaves coke on his nose, gets busted by the detective, tries to break for it, pulls a gun and gets shot in the chest.

Best Dedication to Duty: Detective Pascal forgets her overpriced burrito at the food truck because she decides to immediately respond to the robbery call.

Best Symptom of Being a Jaded Cop: The element of surprise has fled from Detective Pascal’s life — “This is El Lay, nothing shocks me anymore.”

Best Save: A sniper shoots robber A.J. through the back of the head when he has Bernard dead to rights.

Second-best Save: Even though he was supposedly bleeding out and need emergency field medicine, Rick is able to get up and walk out of the depository with support.

Best Serial Killer Story Problem: Bernard starts with eight jars of eyeballs in his safety deposit box and gets seven other people’s eyeballs during his visit, but loses a pair. One of the victims got his eye shot out, but Bernard took the other one. If each jar he has holds two eyeballs, how many more jars is Bernard going to have to get?

Some stilted interchanges between the thieves cause the flick to get bogged down at times. Pretty much everybody does at least one brain-dead thing. Any scene that Rollins is in, he steals, but even toward the end, things get repetitive for his murderer as well. Being a Rollins fan, it wasn’t hard to root for the killer, which was probably Mendez’s intent.  There are quite a few decent blood splatter scenes when Bernard gets to work, but a couple of the makeup effects have folks with purple blood and then there’s a mix of practical/CGI in the big shootout at the end of varying quality.

Two stars.

“The Last Heist” is available on Amazon to rent or buy and there’s physical media out there for it as well.

Next up: Two more kung-fu flicks to conclude Kung-Fubruary.

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