walkenchronicles

Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

Last Man Standing (1996)

lastmanGenre: Western / Action / Shoot-m’up

Walken in Short: He plays a fearsome man named ‘Hickey’, the gravel-voiced, scar-faced, Tommy-gun-toting mean right hand of the Irish gang in an Irish-Italian war.

Movie in a Sentence: A bad-ass rambler (Bruce Willis) with a weak-spot for women in trouble plays two rival gangs against each other for fun and profit in an isolated Texas town during Prohibition.

Director: Walter Hill wrote and directed this thirty years after the Sergio Leonne-made ‘A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS’ (1964), who only made his spaghetti-western a few years after seeing Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Yojimbo’ (1961) who had actually taken the plot and some other story elements from a 1929 Dashiell Hammett novel ‘RED HARVEST’. That’s a 60 year history for this plot! Well, this is classic stuff for Hill, as he usually directs manly movies for macho men. Notably HARD TIMES (1975), THE WARRIORS (1979), and more recently BULLET TO THE HEAD (2012). He’s done nothing else with Walken.

MPAA: Rated ‘R’ for a whole mess of guys getting shot, gratuitously beat, and generally killed very violently.

FUN FACT: ‘Last Man Standing’ is a popular title. There are at least five films and a handful of TV shows that have nothing to do with each other and are all called ‘Last Man Standing’!!!

 

Actors Other Than Walken:

  • Bruce Willis — is ‘John Smith’, the terse, unflappable gun-for-hire that wanders into town and kicks just enough ass to optimize the payday. What can I say? I like Bruce Willis. I like him in most things, and when I don’t, it’s usually got more to do with the writing or production than with his performance. Was also with Walken in PULP FICTION (1994).
  • David Patrick Kelley – is ‘Doyle’, the head of the Irish gang. Kelley has acted in two other projects with Christopher Walken and all three of them were in 1996. Kelley appeared in THE FUNERAL and in a PC computer game called ‘RIPPER’.
  • R.D. Call — is ‘McCool’, another one of Doyle’s trigger-men. Call was also in ‘AT CLOSE RANGE’ (1986) with Walken.
  • Bruce Dern — is ‘Ed’, the guy who pretends to still be the sheriff of the town, even though he gets paid and bullied by the dominant gang to look the other way. Bruce Dern has never been in anything else with Walken.
  • Karina Lombard — is ‘Felina’, the beautiful but sad Mexican woman that Doyle keeps as his wife/prisoner.
  • William Sanderson — is ‘Joe Monday’, the meek and weaselly owner of the hotel and bar that sits between the two gangs and somehow survives. Sanderson is a character actor that you recognize by face right away, but can never remember his name. Actually this film is filled with those kind of guys. Anyways, Sanderson is probably most known for his role as ‘J.F. Sebastian’ in BLADERUNNER (1982). Nothing else with Walken.
  • Michael Imperioli — is ‘Giorgio’, part of the Italian gang, and the son of someone important. Imperioli will always be ‘Spider’ from ‘GOODFELLAS’ to me, but he also appeared in ‘THE ADDICTION’ (1995) with Walken.

Duration: The finished film is a very brisk 101 minutes long, but the original cut was supposedly over two hours long, with the end-scene in particular being completely different. There are trailers made for this film that show clips that never made it in the final cut.

Available to Own: Very inexpensive on DVD. Can also be found fairly cheaply on Blu-ray only as a Bruce Willis double feature with ‘THE LAST BOYSCOUT’.

vlcsnap-2016-12-15-14h03m06s183Similar Films: This film is closer to a Western than a Prohibition-Gangster film. Check out The Quick and the Dead, The Magnificent Seven, Tombstone, and of course A Fisful of Dollars. But if you want to see how it all began, you need to see Yojimbo. Soooooo good!

Walken Content: 15% — Throughout the whole first half of the film, Hickey is only ever talked about but never seen. Everyone is deathly afraid of him and they all have a “Just wait till Hickey gets here” kind of line and a furthering of his legend. Hickey has a scarred face and a Tommy gun and he knows how to use them. Despite not being the leader of the gang, his adversarial relationship with Willis’ Smith is the main conflict of the film.

 

Walken Quote:

“I don’t want to die in Texas. Chicago maybe. You can meet me there if you want, try and kill me.”

 

vlcsnap-2016-12-15-15h05m07s28

 

Should You Watch This? Yes! This isn’t high art, but it’s a good little shoot-em-up. It has style, good pacing, and the action is well-shot. Walken is good in this, growly and menacing. Although I can’t say it’s NECESSARY viewing, it is readily accessible and very easily enjoyed.

What’s Next? Walken has a single scene in ‘BASQUIAT’, the fascinating biopic of a hugely influential 1980’s New York artist.

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