Movie Review: Netflix’s ‘The Last Days of American Crime’ a sleazy, bloated affair

A career criminal plots the heist movie standard Last Big Score in Olivier Megaton’s The Last Days of American Crime, a sleazy, bloated, but intermittently entertaining – often despite itself – new action-thriller now streaming on Netflix. 

But the Last Big Score is really the last. In just a few days, a new mind-control service called the American Peace Initiative will be rolled out across the country, and anyone who attempts to commit a crime will be left frozen in place, unable to carry the deed through. 

It’s an intriguing sci-fi concept: what about self-defense? What about passive crimes, like not helping someone in distress? When courts take years to decide what is and isn’t criminal, how will the API make that distinction before a crime is even committed?

The Last Days of American Crime, of course, addresses precisely none of these issues, with the API serving as a mere MacGuffin. Crime will be impossible in America in a matter of days, and don’t you go worrying about the hows or whys, or what it will even look like when it happens.

Edgar Ramírez stars in The Last Days of American Crime as Graham Bricke, a murderer, bank robber, and all-around dirtbag who douses a bound man in gasoline and sticks a lit cigar in his mouth in the film’s opening sequence. As the camera pans around him, we see his other presumed victims, including a woman shot in the back of the head. 

Yes, this is our hero, and no, the character will not exactly endear himself to us over the course of the next 2.5 hours. Bricke is grieving over the death of his brother and cohort at the outset of the film, which makes him the prime target to join mafioso offspring Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt) on a billion-dollar heist. For some reason (“get back at them!” Cash rages at Bricke).

While Ramírez, so memorable as Carlos the Jackal and as Versace on American Crime Story, generally sleepwalks through the movie in an effort to convey some lethargic charm, Pitt takes the opposite approach, with his mad-dog baddie foaming at the mouth though the entire movie. Combined, they might have made for an entertaining Nicolas Cage-style performance; as two polar extremes, we’d rather not spend much time with either of them. 

Anna Brewster stars as Cash’s put-upon girlfriend and some additional incentive for Bricke to join the crew; it’s a thankless role and rather misogynistic characterization, but the closest thing The Last Days of American Crime has to an engaging presence. Brewster and Ramírez share some legitimately steamy sex scenes, to boot. 

The billion-dollar job is meaningless because Brick and Cash will never be able to spend the money, the film continually reminds us, but after nearly two hours of setup the heist movie payoff in the final third actually delivers some rousing spectacle. Competently staged and shot, it’s the one sequence in the film that makes any kind of sense, in and of itself. 

Sharlto Copely show up as a troubled police officer in a subplot so distanced from the main narrative that one wonders why it was included in the first place; possibly because it was shot in his native Cape Town, South Africa, which quite successfully stands in for Detroit here. Excise his scenes and the bloated two-and-a-half-hour American Crime might come in under two – – and make a little more sense, too. 

Director Olivier Megaton, a protégé of Luc Besson, previously helmed two Taken sequels, Transporter 3, and the similarly-themed Colombiana; The Last Days of American Crime might accurately be described as his magnum opus: it’s about as good (or bad) as those previous films, and there’s a lot more of it. 

Anyone in search of a compelling or even coherent narrative, or characters worth investing in and rooting for, won’t find much in The Last Days of American Crime. And despite some exciting third-act thrills, action fans will also struggle to get through the first two hours of the film, which barely manages a pulse.

And yet, there’s an unhinged appeal to The Last Days of American Crime, a vision of questionable merit left to its own devices, an otherwise well-produced (with moody nighttime noir cinematography by Daniel Aranyó) mess that, on Netflix, has escaped the grasp of Hollywood studio oversight. 

For the adventurous filmgoer, The Last Days of American Crime does truly offer something else, and for that alone it’s worth a little more than its 16/100 rating on Metacritic might indicate. But just a little.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at

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