Over the years there have been some great gangland films about the perennial loser who hooks up with a crew and turns himself into a winner. By that same measure, there have been some great films about that same loser who never gets the pot of gold, who stays a poor bastard the whole film and in the end realizes that is just his lot in life. Last Exit is about that guy, the guy that ruins everything he touches, the guy that never catches a break, the guy who would be better off just blowing his brains out all over the pretty pink walls of his run down apartment. That guy is Nigel.
Nigel (Morten Vogelius) can’t help it. He’s just one of life’s little failures. Having just moved to Copenhagen to take up residence with his girlfriend Maria (Jette Philipsen) and start a new life, Nigel just can’t seem to catch a break. Drowning in old debts he hooks up with a small time crime lord known only as The President (Peter Damm-Ottesen). During his initial encounter with The President, Nigel also encounters Tanya (Gry Bay), an exotic dancer and prostitute. Like Greek tragedy come to life, the second Nigel happens on some cash to cover his debts, he promptly blows a grand just to nail Tanya. Soon his new life begins spiraling out of control as he tries to juggle his job, his girl and his whore. It’s only a matter of time before Nigel comes bursting apart at the seams and a world of terror rains down.
The comparisons that Last Exit is receiving liken it to a Euro-Reservoir Dogs or denote its evocative nature with comparisons to Bad Lieutenant. In my mind the film owes as much to Taxi Driver as anything, specifically, the inevitable ending, which features a fairly unsettling denouement. The true tragedy here is not the story of Nigel or the helplessness of the films climax, the true tragedy is that this could have been a very good film, but it is so damn hard to see, hear and watch that I could never get involved in the story.
To begin with, I should tell you all that this is a low-low budget movie; I have heard conflicting reports that put its budget way below the bottom of the barrel. However, since I cannot find a hard confirmation of the actual dollar amount, I won’t be spreading any salacious rumors today. Lets just say, this puppy was shot on the cheap. Now, with that said, I should tell you that the problems associated with a low budget picture should always be taken with a grain of salt when reviewing the final product. So before you go in, just know that if you turn the TV up to 10, put out all the lights and squint a little bit, you should have no problem watching this movie. Which brings us to the execution of the story.
What fails this film completely is the pacing; Nigel is a great character as is Maria and Tanya. But the film just can’t seem to focus on their story; it spends too much time on pointless peripheral characters like the philosophizing hippy drug dealer. These characters bring nothing to the story and spout inane dialogue that makes little or no sense to either Nigel or the viewers. Unfortunately this happens periodically throughout the film and helps to pad its 97-minute running time with at least 30 minutes of worthless garbage.
In a film that pays homage to Scorsese, Tarantino and Ferrara it stands to reason that part of the charm of the movie will be in watching the filmmakers overcome the problems perpetuated by lack of funding. Last Exit had that potential coming out of the woodwork, but there is a world of difference between budget constraints and intellectual constraints in the land of the low budget beast. Trim out 30 minutes of jawboning and Last Exit would make a pretty solid short film but at a feature length running time it is dreadfully boring and when the shocking final 15 minutes kick in, it winds up as the very definition of too little too late.