Last Man Standing

Rated PG-13, language

Bruce Willis in his Model A Bruce Willis plays an antihero in this prohibition-era film noir set in the dusty-muddy Texas town of Jericho, fifty miles from the Rio Grande and Mexico in the 1920's. Chugging into town in his Model A Ford (the equivalent of a white hat in this modern western), Willis soon discovers that this once-thriving cow town is reduced to the members of two rival Chicago bootlegging gangs, their hangers on, and a tiny "service community." Hmmm, he says, looks like an opportunity to make some money. He plays each gang against the other and profits from both.

But if you haven't guessed, this is dangerous business. He almost gets killed more than once, and why he doesn't—a moment of weakness, or charity, on the part of these desperados?—is the too-easy plot flaw that weakens the film's credibility. I deduced from the trailers that this film's uniqueness is that it's a "mob western." But that's not really all that unique. What were the James gang and Ringo's Tombstone Cowboys but mobs of an earlier century?

Brue Dern as the sheriff who has to be taught to care about law and order, William Sanderson ("Larry" on the old Bob Newhart show) as the cafe keeper they think is crazy, and Christopher Walken as the meanest mob member, also have solid performances in notable roles. Karina Lombard plays a girl forced to go bad and Alexandra Powers is the cliche harlot with the heart of gold. The setting, where the air is filled with dust one day and pouring rain the next, almost steals the show.

Photo by the film's distributor

1997, Jon Kennedy