Richard Brake in The Last Stop in Yuma County (2024)

‘The Last Stop in Yuma County’ movie review: Jim Cummings in slow-burn Arizona crime thriller

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A pair of bank robbers hold a rural Arizona diner hostess and her lone patron hostage in The Last Stop in Yuma County, a nifty little crime drama now available for rent or purchase on VOD platforms worldwide. A strong cast of character actors helps ground this tightly-wound thriller that ratchets up tension to a breaking point before exploding in violence.

The Last Stop in Yuma County, not to be confused with the similarly-titled Breaking News in Yuba County, stars Jim Cummings as a meek knife salesman traveling to Carlsbad for his daughter’s birthday. But when he stops for gas at isolated station in the middle of the Arizona desert, attendant Vernon (Faizon Love) tells him the fuel truck is late today, and the next station is 100 miles away.

Taking refuge in the diner next door, the knife salesman strikes up a rapport with friendly hostess Charlotte (Jocelin Donahue) before the pair are joined by a couple of others looking to kill time while waiting to refuel. But the screw-loose Travis (Nicholas Logan) and cool-customer Beau (Richard Brake) aren’t just passing through: they’ve robbed a nearby bank and are currently in the midst of a getaway.

Having heard descriptions of the robbers’ Pinto on the radio, the knife salesman soon clues in to their identities, and quietly informs Charlotte. But he’ll soon wish he hadn’t, as Beau is quickly savvy to their deduction, and force the pair into an uneasy hostage situation as he and his partner wait for the fuel truck… or any other vehicle the pair can steal.

That’s easy enough at first, but becomes increasingly difficult as the diner fills up with additional patrons in search of gasoline throughout the day. They include an elderly couple (Gene Jones and Robin Bartlett), a pair of young Bonnie & Clyde types (Ryan Masson and Sierra McCormick), the local deputy (Connor Paolo), and even the Sheriff (Michael Abbott Jr.), who just happens to be Charlotte’s husband.

The Last Stop in Yuma County features a cast full of familiar faces, each of whom do a lot to elevate what are almost entirely one-dimensional characterizations. But that’s fine for this kind of movie, which has to establish a wide range of diverse characters in limited screen time while allowing the plot to drive the narrative.

Especially effective here are Brake (Mandy and the recent The Strangers: Chapter 1), who has a meaty role as an especially menacing killer, and Jones (who shared an unforgettable scene with Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men and recently appeared in Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon), who here portrays an old man oblivious to the tension that slowly builds around him.

One quibble: given the sparse insight into these characters, late scenes that involve difficult decisions being made and moral lines being crossed don’t work as well as they might have if we knew or cared more about these people. Still, The Last Stop in Yuma County is thoroughly engaging from beginning to fiery end, and never wears out its welcome during an expedient running time.

Despite being the debut feature from writer-director Francis Galluppi, The Last Stop in Yuma County is a sure-handed ride that can stand up right next to bigger-budgeted Hollywood features. Despite a few contrivances in his screenplay, Galluppi never lingers long enough to lose the tension he has carefully built up throughout the narrative.

The Last Stop in Yuma County isn’t entirely as no-nonsense as its noirish setup may imply, and has a sense of bitterly ironic humor that often shines through. It evokes feelings of early films by Joel and Ethan Coen (Blood Simple) or Sam Raimi (Crimewave or more fittingly, especially in its final scenes, A Simple Plan). No surprise, then, that Galluppi has already been tapped to helm a new Evil Dead movie.

The Last Stop in Yuma County

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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 expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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