The Last Manhunt is extremely misleading. From the title and premise, you could be duped into thinking this is a tense chase through the desert in the Old West, but in reality, we have a large slow, surprisingly uninvolving Western that has all the potential in the world but doesn’t utilize much of it at all. It’s all fine from a technical point of view and the actors are giving their best, but The Last Manhunt lets them down with the deadliest thing to any film: An undercooked script.
The year is 1909. Willie Boy (Martin Sensmeier) and Carlotta (Mainei Kinimaka) are deeply in love, but Carlotta’s father (Zahn Mclarnon) disapproves of their union. When an altercation between Willie and the father leads to the latter’s accidental death, the two lovers flee into the desert, pursued by a group of local lawmen seeking to create positive press for themselves. Now the chase is on as the lawmen seek out the lovers, who must fight against unforeseen elements of the wilderness as they go.
The Last Manhunt is one of the most underdeveloped movies I’ve seen this year. There are multiple elements here that could have made a good or potentially great movie, but the film never congeals them in a way to make that happen. We’ve seen several Westerns in the last few years that have attempted to keep to the aesthetic of the genre while updating it with more modern themes, but it feels like the filmmakers didn’t realize what they had.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE LAST MANHUNT?
The first major problem here is how little characterization any of our players are given. The film doesn’t develop Willie Boy and Carlotta as a couple or separately, and much of their screentime is spent looking off into the distance, sitting down, or occasionally nursing a wound. They never discuss the death of Carlotta’s father or how that’s impacted her in any significant way, let alone have many long-form conversations about anything. This has nothing to do with the actors, who do a fine job with what little they’re given, but the result was that I didn’t care if they survived.
The lawmen characters don’t fare much better. They’re similarly acted well enough and everyone fits in the period setting, but they’re given little personality or depth. The film presents the idea that they want to be seen as heroes in the town and one of them apparently is accounting for a past misdeed that doesn’t get expanded upon, but this is all potential left unfulfilled. The character that does stick out the most is a reporter and photographer who joins them to document their adventure, allowing the filmmakers to try for a commentary on the press and how news is perceived, but this again doesn’t go far enough with a good idea.
None of this is helped by the film’s slow pacing and cutting back between the two sets of characters for moments at a time. The film runs an hour and forty-three minutes long, but feels much longer as very little happens with each camp every time we cut to them.
We get the basics established, but not much beyond that to help get a deeper understanding of these people and their quests. However, the most peculiar thing about the film is the inclusion of A-lister Jason Momoa in the cast. His face is on the poster and all over the ads, but I’m sad to say Momoa barely gets anything to do and spends the majority of his screen time in the background. His gruff demeanor here is well-suited for the setting though, so here’s hoping we’ll see him in this genre again with a meatier role someday.
THE FEW GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE LAST MANHUNT
The Last Manhunt isn’t a total wash, however. The cinematography and music stand out as good points and the performances from everyone involved get the job done, but I just wish they had a better script to work with. There could have been an endearing romance, survival film, catch-the-criminals chase, and character piece here, but unfortunately, this Last Manhunt fails to ride off in the sunset on any of its potential.
2 out of 5 stars (has some good moments but is overall bad)
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