Only a couple of months after Catch the Bullet, prolific director Michael Feifer (The Desperate Riders, Here Kills the Bride) is back with another Western, Last Shoot Out. You may remember that Catch the Bullet didn’t exactly impress me, can he deliver something more satisfying this time?
Jocelyn Callahan’s (Skylar Witte, Top Gun: Maverick, 12 Pups of Christmas) marriage is off to a bad start. They haven’t even gotten to the honeymoon when she finds out that her husband Jody (Michael Welch, Twilight, Blood Craft) was responsible for her father’s murder. Horrified and worried for her own safety she steals a horse while he’s busy getting drunk, and rides off into the night.
Gunslinger Billy Tyson (Brock Harris, Gone Missing) and Red (Peter Sherayko, Bone Tomahawk, Dead Men), a former sheriff, are on their way to Rhyker’s Station when they run across Jocelyn just as Jody’s brother Sid (Cam Gigandet, Never Back Down, Priest) does. Needless to say, Billy steps up to defend her, especially after Sid slaps her around. Guns are drawn but Billy merely embarrasses Sid rather than kill him.
Last Shoot Out’s writer Lee Martin (Shadow on the Mesa) deals up a classic situation with a wronged woman, a young gunman and a crusty old-timer squaring up against a powerful family of bad guys led by patriarch Blair (Bruce Dern, Hellblazers, The Cowboys). It even works in a remote stagecoach station and a couple of mismatched passengers, Potts (Brock Burnett, A Killer Walks Amongst Us, Passenger 57) an arrogant Easterner and the more sympathetic Eloise (Caia Coley, Deviant Love, Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield).
Like most lower-budget Westerns, Last Shoot Out is a bit on the talky side and takes its time getting to the action. But at least this time the dialogue and situations were well written and interesting enough to hold my interest. Granted, Red comparing them to “Knights of old, practicing chivalry and defending a lady in distress” is a bit over the top but it does sum up the classic Western archetype fairly accurately.
Last Shoot Out saves the action for the last act when the Callahan’s and their men lay siege to the station. There’s a bit of intrigue surrounding Twigs (Jay Pickett, Eve of Destruction, Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas) one of their men who is also a friend of Billy’s. Once the sides are drawn we get our final showdown, or last shoot out if you prefer.
For those wondering Dern has about ten minutes worth of screen time, giving a low-key performance as a particularly evil old bastard. David, son of Dom, DeLuise from Wizards of Waverly Place is also in the cast in case anyone wants to play spot the celebrity.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, Brock Harris looks the part but is a bit bland as the hero. Skylar Witte is appealing as the strong-willed damsel in distress. However, Michael Welch, channelling a young Bruce Dern, stands out as the psychotic Jody even with somewhat limited screen time. The older supporting cast is composed mostly of seasoned character actors and, unsurprisingly, are more convincing in their roles.
It’s all standard stuff, there’s nothing groundbreaking or game-changing in Last Shoot Out, Feifer’s direction certainly didn’t get any better between films and there’s still not enough action. But having a much better script makes a lot of difference and this time around I was entertained rather than just not bored. It’s worth a watch and should hold you over until something better comes along.
Lionsgate will release Last Shoot Out in select theatres and as a Digital rental on December.3rd. It will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and for Digital purchase on Dec. 7th. You can check their website for more information.