One of the worst thrillers in recent memory
Actor Gerard Butler is not without talent but he has made some pretty bad career choices over the years. Geostorm, London Has Fallen, and The Bounty Hunter rank as some of his worst, but many more bad-to-middling efforts could be mentioned here. But in terms of quality, none are as awful as Last Seen Alive, a thriller with fewer thrills than a visit to your local Post Office.
Last Seen Alive is a poorly made, poorly scripted effort that has to rank as Butler’s worst-ever movie and considering he once starred in the infamously bad ‘comedy’ Movie 43, that really is saying something.
The premise of Last Seen Alive isn’t a bad one, however, although it is a little familiar. It details the story of Will Spann whose wife Lisa (Jamie Alexander) mysteriously disappears at a gas station. Where did she go? Well, that would be telling, although there isn’t much of a mystery behind her vanishing as this movie is as generic as they come.
After running around in a desperate effort to find his wife, Will calls the police. Frustrated at their lack of action, he then gets caught up in the criminal underbelly of the nearby town when he decides to take the law into his own hands. After implementing his own special brand of vigilante justice, the truth behind his wife’s disappearance comes to light. Is she dead? Is she alive? Did Jamie Alexander depart the movie early in search of a better script?
Tune in if you want to find out but your time will be much better served watching a superior ‘missing persons movie,’ such as Breakdown, Frantic, or Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. These are all excellent examples of the genre with stories you can become invested in, unlike Last Seen Alive which has nothing to recommend it.
There is no suspense in this one and despite the potential for some interesting twists and turns, there is absolutely nothing here that will surprise or shock you. The biggest mystery of all is why Butler and his co-stars agreed to star in this mess as nobody is well-served by the diabolically bad screenplay that features some of the worst dialogue in a movie I have heard in a long time.
The direction is bad too, which is something of a surprise as Brian Goodman, who made this misfire, also directed 2008’s What Doesn’t Kill You, a critically acclaimed crime drama that starred Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo.
Admittedly, he didn’t have a good script to work from this time around but that doesn’t excuse his workmanlike direction and his failed attempts to ratchet up any tension. He wastes the talents of good actors as he does nothing to extract decent performances from any of them. It’s almost as if he realised he had a clunker on his hands and decided to coast by without putting in any real effort.
The movie could have been salvaged with a few solid action scenes to break up the mediocrity of the cliched script. Unfortunately, Goodman favours flashbacks to Will’s troubled marriage to anything that could reasonably be considered exciting. This is a pity, as not only are these moments as unconvincingly played as the rest of the scenes in this dumb movie, but they are largely pointless too.
They prolong the film’s running time rather than add anything of narrative value and if you’re desperately waiting for the end credits to roll, you might feel a deep sense of frustration every time there is a break in the plot to make room for the scenes of Will and Lisa’s crumbling relationship.
Ultimately, this is less about Lisa’s disappearance and more about the disappearance of plot logic, originality, and creativity. It has a lot in common with the recent run of B-movies that Nicolas Cage and Bruce Willis have starred in with its cheap feel and lacklustre storytelling, and as such, deserves to be thrown away and never to be seen again. Even if you lower your expectations when going into this one, you are going to be disappointed.
I desperately tried to find something to like about this movie, in a vain attempt to say something positive to balance out my negativity. Unfortunately, I came up short as this is one of the worst films I have seen in recent memory and as such, I cannot recommend it, even if you’re a fan of the leading actor.
As the people behind Last Seen Alive didn’t make a lot of effort when putting it together, you shouldn’t put any effort into watching it as there are far better movies out there that are more deserving of your time.
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