No, Not the Tim Allen Show
Last Man Standing is the American reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), though it wasn’t the first reinterpretation. The Spaghetti Western A Fist Full of Dollars (1964) had tread this ground before—a man with no name caught up in the exacerbating violence of warring gangs.
Unlike the Italian-produced film, Last Man Standing was given Kurosawa’s blessing. Unfortunately, it can’t replicate either of its predecessors results. Directed by Walter Hill, it’s a movie that struggles mightily to present a coherent story. Sure, it revolves around Irish and Italian mobsters vying for bootlegging dominance in a remote Texas town, but what happens around that is often nonsensical.
That is no fault of the director’s. Last Man Standing, like many other films we’ve covered, fell victim to the demands of the studio. Nearly 30 minutes of its original runtime was sent to the editing room floor.
Its lack of connective tissue is made evident by John Smith’s (Bruce Willis) forced bits of narration. The muddled narrative no doubt hurt its critical reception. With 30 reviews, it sits at 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s also the biggest financial failure of our “Hops and Bruno Flops” series. On a budget of $67 million, it grossed just $47.3 million. Yet, and this may be a stretch, some now consider it a cult classic.
That is all credit to its gratuitous violence. Smith, the pseudo-hero of the film, dishes out lead in hefty amounts—rarely stopping to breather or even reload. As ludicrous as the gunplay is at times, it does make Last Man Standing a moderately enjoyable endeavor.
Now sit back, sip on a cool Furious IPA from Surly Brewing Co., and tip your hat to the undertaker! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Mayor McCheese are running moonshine through Mexico with Colt pistols in hand!
This Week’s Segments:
- Introduction/Plot Breakdown – When Bruce Willis strolls into a gang war in Prohibition-era Texas, bullets fly. (00:00)
- Lingering Questions – Somewhere out in the ether, a director’s cut of this movie exists. Would we like to see it one day? (53:47)
- The “Jericho” Trivia Challenge – I challenge the field to a series of questions about the movie. (1:07:56)
- Recommendations – We offer our picks for the week and next up: We kick off, literally, “Hops and Sports Ball Flops” with The Program! (1:18:08)