Last Man Down opens with a large, bearded man named John Wood (Daniel Stisen, Rise of the Footsoldier 3, Following the Wicca Man) tied to a chair while being interrogated by an even larger man, Commander Stone (Daniel Nehme, Redirected, Hard Tide). Stone also has a gun aimed at Wood’s wife. Unfortunately, John really doesn’t have the answers Stone wants.
Three years later John has retreated into the woods, leaving what’s left of a pandemic stricken world behind. His solitude is broken when Maria (Olga Kent), an escaped test subject, stumbles across his cabin. And who has been sent to bring her back? Do I really have to tell you it’s Commander Stone?
The opening of Last Man Down screams 80s action film. Both in the situation and the size of the two leads. It’s like Arnie staring down Vernon Wells in Commando or Lundgren and Stallone in Rocky 4 all over again. And, after so many years of action films full of pretty boys like Tom Cruise, it’s good to see actors who look like they can kick your ass in a film like this.
For the first half-hour or so, Last Man Down is filled with flashbacks. We learn a bit about John’s background and how he escaped after his wife was murdered. We also find out that he, like Maria, seems to be immune to the virus, and they were planning to use him like they had been using her before she escaped.
For a warm-up we get to see John and Maria dispatch several of Stone’s men who don’t realize John isn’t just some timberman, as they call him until it’s too late. He even dispatches a pair of them while taking a dump. How’s that for badass? And, like any real action hero, John has his one-liners. After putting an arrow through one opponent he tells him “I don’t negotiate”. And after Maria asks if he has a plan to hold off Stone and his men he pulls back a tarp to reveal a collection of guns, grenades and other weaponry and deadpans “I think we can hold them off until winter”.
Director Fansu Njie and co-writers Daniel Stisen and Andreas Vasshaug smartly gave Maria a background that lets her be more than a damsel in distress. She’s tough and familiar with weapons without resorting to having her be ex-military as well as making it believable when trained soldiers do catch her unaware. Last Man Down has two other female fighters, Granite (Madeleine Vall, Wonder Woman) and Zahara (Natassia Malthe, Battle Drone, In the Name of the King: Two Worlds), but they have extremely limited screen time.
While Last Man Down does it’s best to recreate the feel of the classic action films, it doesn’t have the budget of one. So we don’t get the epic explosions of those films, or even the army of cardboard cutouts Schwarzenegger faced in Commando. But there was enough money to hire enough stuntmen to keep the gunfights and hand to hand scenes interesting. And make sure most scenes have enough extras to serve as cannon fodder.
It all leads to a final half-hour with a higher body count than the last three Steven Segal films combined and two excellent brawls. Of course, he goes toe to toe with Stone, and he gets to throw down with the equally jacked Dr. Feltspat (Stanislav Yanevski, Hostel II), who ran the experiments on him and Maria. Apart from one kick from a random extra that looks speeded up the fights seem to be free of gimmickry, which is also a plus.
On the downside neither Stisen nor Nehme is a particularly good actor, thankfully Last Man Down doesn’t call for them to do much more than snarl and break heads. Hopefully, there are some acting classes in their future. Also, the ending is a bit too blatant a setup for a sequel. But I’ll gladly watch that sequel because this is one of the best DTV action films I’ve seen in a while.
Saban Films will release Last Man Down On Demand and On Digital on October 19th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.