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Review: The Last Deal

Set slightly after the 2016 election as cannabis is legalized in California, a former black market marijuana dealer is looking for The Last Deal in the new thriller from director Jonathan Salemi.

Anthony Molinari stars as Vince, who runs a dispensary in California that is getting squeezed out due to the new legal competition and regulations that came with the legalization of marijuana.  Looking to make one big deal to save his shop and make some cash, he and his partner Bobby (Mister Fitzgerald) make a deal with some shady criminals but end up getting double-crossed and are stuck with no weed and no cash.  Owing the money they used for the weed to a ruthless crime boss (Sala Barker), Vince has to figure out some way to dig himself out and keep his girlfriend Tabitha (Jeffri Lauren) out of danger.  The movie is mainly a thriller and not so much an action movie.  It’s more about following Vince around Los Angeles, seeing him get deeper into danger, and waiting to see if he’ll figure out some way.  There’s a bit of a set piece in the climax but if you’re looking for set pieces like car chases or shootouts, you’ll probably be disappointed.  There definitely could have been 1 or 2 set pieces sprinkled about throughout the movie to keep the pace going and add some excitement and it’s odd because a ton of the talent behind the scenes has lots of stunt experience, so you might expect more action as they know how to perform it and how to shoot it.  The plot hits quite a few familiar beats but there are some interesting twists and surprises that keep things interesting, like the result of what happens when Vince hires a hitman to take out The Boss (Barker) and his henchmen.  There’s also some odd bookending narration that really digs into the state of cannabis in California that almost feels like it should be more in a documentary than a thriller and feels like the filmmakers really wanted to make sure you knew how things worked pre and post-legalization.

Acting-wise, Molinari is a scruffy but likable protagonist who feels like, say, Jason Clarke by way of Boston.  There does seem like there are a few missed opportunities or weirdness with his character, like the fact that the movie makes a big deal that he was formerly a boxer and then doesn’t really let him get into any big fights, and where he ends up feels like an extremely viable solution that makes everything that happens in the movie feel wildly unnecessary given his apparent skills in another area of the cannabis business.  Sala Barker is definitely one of the highlights of the movie as The Boss, exuding cool but malevolent energy in every scene he’s in and he’s surrounded by a group of colorful henchmen that make things interesting as well.  Mister Fitzgerald is also extremely solid as Bobby and there are some interesting beats to his character, like the fact that he works as an enforcer/collection agent along with his and Vince’s cannabis business, that unfortunately are not really explored before he exits the movie.

Heat and Savages are mentioned as two of the movies that The Last Deal takes inspiration from and, while not as stylish or visually interesting as a Michael Mann or Oliver Stone movie, there is some visual flair and style that comes through in some sequences.  There’s a fantastic synth score that accompanies most of the movie and that combined with some shots of Los Angeles at night the way the lights light the streets does evoke Mann.  There probably could have been more style and flair put in, as outside that handful of shots the movie is shot in a solidly crafted but not overly interesting manner.

Overall, The Last Deal is a solid thriller with a likable lead performance, an excellent villain, and a few interesting plot beats within a fairly standard structure. It’s out now in theaters and also on VOD/Digital.

Where to watch The Last Deal

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