Pia Kirby Roycroft looks at stoner action flick The Last Deal.
The Last Deal (2023), directed by Jonathan Salemi is the most serious “stoner” film you’ll come across. Tonally reminiscent of Cisco Pike (1972) and We’re the Millers (2013), this adds a modern spin on classic prohibition-era gangster films like Once Upon a Time in America (1984) – with the restricted drug in this instance being, of course, the devil’s lettuce.
The movie has a simple yet effective plot, centring around an ambitious main character Vincent (Antony Molinari). When a drug deal he makes goes bad, he struggles to make things right in the hopes of attaining a better future for him and his pregnant girlfriend Tabitha. This simplicity is not to the detriment of the film, rather this delivers a comfortable shorthand allowing us to be immersed in the action.
The plants themselves serve more of a plot device rather than the main focus of the film. While Vincent’s plight is relatable, the less connectable aspect is how he chooses to eke out a living: risky deals with shady people. Time and time again he is double-crossed and betrayed until he’s in way over his head. This sets up a satisfying retribution arc of action delivered through intricate fight scenes and dramatic deaths.
The overall tone is ambiguous; some scenes are almost comedic, the violence heightened, yet The Last Deal maintains an air of unease throughout. Molinari’s portrayal of Vincent is impressive and emotive. The same cannot be said for the character of Bobby, played by Mister Fitzgerald. On paper he is a character you feel like you want to sympathise with, however that on screen chemistry isn’t quite realised.
Both the VFX and action are immersive and well executed, a very difficult task to achieve on a smaller budget. The fight choreography is fluid and slick, elevated by some scarily realistic knife and gun wounds. This was undoubtedly realised by the high caliber of the production’s stuntmen; Koby Azarly and Bryan McGowan were on big names like Rambo III (1988) and Westworld (2020). There is a very minimal soundtrack underpinning the action which punctuated the performance and sound design.
Overall, director Salemi delivers a film that is impressive and impactful despite the fiscal constraints, giving this grass-filled flick the green light and rating it highly! This reviewer looks forward to seeing what he does next.
The Last Deal is available to stream online now.