top

The Last Marshal
(1999)
 

Director:Mike Kirton                       
Cast:
Scott Glenn, Constance Marie, Randall Batinkoff


We first see Marshal McClary (Glenn) on his ranch shortly after the opening title, which spells "marshal" with two Ls despite it being spelled with only one L all over the video box. The marshal comes across two people sleeping on his property in front of a fire, so he naturally puts one of their feet on the fire, resulting in them waking up pretty quickly. Pointing his gun, the marshal yells, "Whatever you're reaching for better be a chicken burrito, Pepe!" Next, he tells these "border shit maggots" that, "First off, you've done a s**t load wrong, because you're a f**king wetback Mexican on private property! Second, I do have the the damn right, because it's my property and I hate Mexicans!" When one of the men mentions they are actually Sioux, the marshal responds by saying, "Well, you're really up s**t creek, Chief!" Whoa! No, we're certainly not in PC territory here, and neither elsewhere in the movie, with McCalry using any excuse to express, with most colorful language, his instant hatred of everyone he comes across. And any situation where he is able to use his fists or pistols is okay by him.

A famous French film director once said that making a movie can be the best way to criticize another movie; compare this movie to the awful Outlaw Force, and you start to see his point. The makers of this movie certainly knew what people expect of this kind of movie, clearly making a real effort to pull it off, which they overall do successfully. They knew the key to a movie like this is in the kind of hero, though maybe the best way to describe it here would be "anti-hero". Casting Scott Glenn as this title figure was a masterstroke, for he plays the role as if he was written for him. With his rugged looks sporting a bushy mustache, and wearing a cowboy hat and jeans, his character indeed looks like he is from Texas. Glenn is also successful in his acting to convince us his character is a real Texan, no doubt due to the fact the script makes him possibly the meanest, most foul-mouthed Texan lawman to walk the streets. Marshal McClary makes Chuck Norris' character from Walker: Texas Ranger look like a real pansy. The morning after that fireside incident, McClary says to a fellow officer about his Latino wife, "Well, at least your house is clean." When they arrive outside a church, with gunmen holding the churchgoers inside, McClary decides he has to kill the creeps, because the FBI hostage negotiators are only 10 minutes away. Storming in, he immediately starts blasting away the creeps with his shotgun, spouting off various profanity laced insults while painting the walls red. As you may have guessed by now, this guy isn't exactly subtle.

Due to the FBI interfering with his perfect plans, McClary ends up wounded, and two of the gunmen get away. After some investigating, McClary finds they escaped to Miami ("Faggot Central"), so still sporting his cowboy duds, heads down there to find them. Met at the Miami train station by another marshal, McClary's first words to him are, "Who the f**k are you?" This brings up one of the reasons why I enjoyed The Last Marshal so much - the script is so ridiculously filled up with profanity, viewers will be amused rather than offended. About every second or third line of dialogue Glenn utters has some kind of profanity in it. And he isn't the only one uttering gratuitous and hilarious profanities; he and other characters throughout the film spit out lines like, "It wasn't that he s**t his pants - it was the way he s**t his pants." , "I get emotional around water. It scares the s**t out of me.", and "Lick the back of my b***s!"

There are a few instances where the writing gets seriously screwed up, mentioning the situation of something, then mentioning it very differently later. One typical occurrence is that we first learn McClary will retire in six months, then later someone mentions it is ten months. I can't imagine how the director could have missed something like that, and I have to wonder if the script was being worked on as it was being filmed. As well, the writing doesn't really take the story or the characters in any directions we haven't seen before. For example, when the water phobic McClary is given a crash course in piloting a powerboat by a female marshal, we instantly know that McClary will find himself having to drive a boat before the end of the movie. And, of course, that female marshal is non Caucasian, and McClary was forced to partner up with her by the higher powers. I consider stuff like that part of the game, and kind of fun, at least when they are found in a formula that is well executed. The Last Marshal is very well made, with slick cinematography, and with tongue-in-cheek writing and acting. It's main promise of hard action is also delivered, enough so that it becomes quite violent. Dead bodies are pumped with extra bullets to make sure the corpses are indeed dead, and a surprising number of innocent bystanders get knocked off in a couple of shoot-out scenes. Those shoot-outs are very well choreographed, managing to bring a sense of chaos, while at the same time being easy to follow and filled with gusto. There are also a couple of chase sequences that are equally as noteworthy. One of these chases, involving a powerboat chasing a motorcycle, manages to get these incredibly fast machines close together in the same shot - quite an achievement for a low budget movie.

Eventually, the movie starts to drag a little - McClary's foul speaking doesn't seem as funny as it was in the beginning, and the pacing starts to slow down considerably enough that at one point, they have to get McClary to coincidentally bump into one of the bad guys on the street. The movie does redeem itself a lot by packing in a considerable amount of action towards the end, leading to a satisfying (though a little sadistic) ending. If you are looking for a macho actioner to watch while you and your buddies crush beer cans on you heads, this movie will do nicely, and I was pretty satisfied by it. In fact, if they could construct a more evenly paced story, and deliver the goods at the same quality, I wouldn't mind at all if they had this character strap on his six-shooters again.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)
Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: If You Meet Sartana..., Outlaw Force, The Stalking Moon

homeindexgenree-mail