Charlie Hunnam is one of those actors that the Hollywood industrial complex has worked in overdrive to convince audiences is a bonafide movie star, yet it’s never really taken. With Last Looks, now streaming on Hulu, he gets as close as he’s ever been. Moreso than playing a sword-wielding warrior or any other action here, he’s at home here as a has-been Hollywood detective drawn back into duty by a case that’s just too beguiling to pass up.
LAST LOOKS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam) is living a life of seclusion and simplicity out in the woods at the start of Last Looks. He achieved a quasi-celebrity status in the City of Angels as the LAPD’s youngest detective, but the hotshot gumshoe goes off-the-grid because he’s haunted by a case gone wrong due to his own ambition. When ex-flame and aspiring private investigator Lorena (Morena Baccarin) locates him, Waldo has divested all but 100 items.
She manages to reel Waldo back into the game, however, with an intriguing case involving the death of the hacky Hollywood actor Alastair Pinch’s (Mel Gibson) wife, a murder in which he’s naturally the prime suspect. Waldo’s re-emergence into the city brings with it an assorted ensemble of characters trying to come out on top. In a town built on artful deception, he’s in for a wild ride as he fends off old rivals, be they cops or criminals, and meets a whole coterie of assorted industry types trying to cash in. Be it studio exec Wilson Sikorsky (Rupert Friend) or a kindergarten teacher (Lucy Punch), Waldo has his work cut out for him to solve the riddle of the living before he can resolve the mystery of the dead.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Last Looks is clearly inspired by the kind of wisecracking detective stories like The Long Goodbye. But it also goes a little bit more into the realm of outright genre revisionism and ribbing, something akin to what Shane Black’s The Nice Guys did.
Performance Worth Watching: No wonder Charlie Hunnam executive produced Last Looks — it’s one of the best showcases for his talent in years. This laconic, observant role is precisely the kind of work in which he excels. Yet this reticent, borderline passive, tendency also makes him uniquely ill-suited to work as a fast-charging Hollywood action hero. It’s nice to see Hunnam playing a little more in his natural comfort zone. (As a reminder: even though his hammy schtick leads to occasional fun, you do not, under any circumstances, gotta hand it to notorious racist and antisemite Mel Gibson.)
Memorable Dialogue: Waldo wins the day here with a snappy line of textbook cynicism we come to expect from a Hollywood-set mystery: “It’s L.A., the star always gets off.”
Sex and Skin: Waldo divests not only his things – but also his clothes. That’s right, you’re going to see some Hunnam hiney here. (Although those looking for something steamy are not in luck as the film’s sensuous scene shrouds skin in shadow.)
Our Take: Like many a sprawling murder mystery, Last Looks gets a bit convoluted as it nears a close. But there’s enough intrigue and tension generated by Howard Michael Gould’s story to keep us drawn in throughout. The film is at its best when director Tim Kirkby just lets it be simple and simmer with Hunnam’s well-defined Waldo. It comes as no surprise to see the giant logo in the closing credits that this Hollywood-set story was, in fact, shot in Georgia. The film does feel a bit constrained by not having a budget as big as its ambitions, and it shows whenever it aims to mimic things like film noir ambiance. All the same, the creative team makes the most of those limitations.
Our Call: STREAM IT! With just enough novelty and a lot of dedication from star Charlie Hunnam, Last Looks makes for an engaging and entertaining mystery. It might not scale the heights of its inspirations, but it’s a modest delight with plenty to offer genre enthusiasts.
Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. In addition to Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, Little White Lies and many other outlets. Some day soon, everyone will realize how right he is about Spring Breakers.
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