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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 10, 2022



PRIVATE EYE films is a genre all its own. 

The list includes “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiel Hammett with Humphrey Bogart, Roman Polanski’s classic “Chinatown” with Jack Nicholson, Alfred Hitchock’s “Vertigo” with James Stewart, the gumshoe films of Raymond Chandler, and among the newer ones, Shane Black’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” with Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. 

Now comes “Last Looks” with Charlie Hunnam as a retired, washed up cop, Charlie Waldo, who used to be one the finest detectives in LAPD, but now lives like a hermit in a rundown trailer home in the hills, away from society. 

We will learn later that he dropped out of society three years ago to be a recluse because of his guilt feelings for having sent an innocent man to jail. 

He lives very simply, moves around in a bike, and written on the side of his trailer home is his apparent motto in life: “Don’t Want. Don’t Acquire.” 

One day, a former partner visits him, Lorena (Morena Baccarin of “Deadpool”), who asks his help in solving the case of a big TV star, Alastair Pinch (Mel Gibson), of the top series “Johnnie’s Bench” where he plays a judge. 

Pinch is accused of killing his own wife and the studio executive Sikorsky (Rupert Friend) wants Waldo to exonerate Pinch so he can finish all the episodes their show needs for syndication deals. 

It’s a high profile murder case since a celebrity is involved, but Pinch cannot remember anything about the night of the murder as he was dead drunk. 

He’s not even sure if he did or didn’t do it, but the evidence looks like they’re all stacked against him.

Waldo is warned by some goons not to accept the case but he himself does not really want to accept it.

 But when Lorena turns up dead and he sees some redeeming factor in the annoying Pinch, he changes his mind and takes the case, even if his own former LAPD boss, Big Jim (Clancy Brown), regards him as an outcast and refuses to help him in anyway. 

As a whodunit, the story is quite convoluted and during Waldo’s investigation, he meets all types of very intriguing suspects, informants and secret enemies who try their best to foil him. 

Among the colorful characters he encounters along the way are a lawyer, Warren Gomez (Dominic Monaghan) who warns him to stay away from the case; the teacher of Pinch’s seductive daughter named Jane White (Lucy Fry), who seems to hold a secret; a TV magnate, Darius Jamshidi (David Pasquesi) who is Sikorsky’s rival; and an odious thug, Don Q (Jacob Scipio), who tells Waldo to return something he claims Lorena has stolen from him. 

Waldo is beaten up several times by various thugs while trying to solve the murder mystery he’s investigating, which turns out to be very complicated. 

The way he sums it all up in a climactic scene with the killer is very skillfully done and hats off to Charlie Hunnam for pulling it off with so much self confidence that may put to shame even Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason or Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.  

The film is based on the novel written by Howard Michael Gould, who also wrote the screenplay and Director Tom Kirkby chooses to take a very loose and light hearted treatment of the material. 

This begins with the easy going characterization of the lead character as a wise-cracking hero who engages in meditation yet makes fun of everything. 

It’s obvious Hunnam is having a blast in portraying the part. 

At first, he appears with a scruffy beard, making him look smelly, but he later shaves it off for a more clean cut look. Mel Gibson himself is also enjoying the flamboyance with which he treats his cartoonish role. 

He’s supposed to be a Shakespearean actor so he speaks with a British accent and when he’s playing his judge role, he shifts to a Southern drawl. 

He might be a boorish superstar in front of others but he’s a sweet puppy when he’s with his cute little daughter. 

The performances of some of the supporting players are also a bit over the top but we think it’s the tone the director deliberately wants to maintain for his film where no one is as innocent as it may seem. 

All in all, we think he succeeds in holding the various threads together and gets to wrap up all its loose ends quite credibly.