Movie Review: The Last Deal: Navigating the criminal underbelly in the era of drug legalization
‘The Last Deal’ is a somewhat decent crime thriller that explores the moral dilemmas of a drug dealer who is forced to make a last attempt at a big score just when his dealings are threatened by the legalization of cannabis.
Vince is your average Los Angeles weed guy trying to make it big under the radar of law enforcement. He started small-time as a grower and has made it big selling marijuana illegally under the radar.
But he anticipates that with the banned substance getting legalized soon he might be out of business. He is faced with the typical bottlenecks trying to make his business selling drugs legal.
He then decides he needs one last deal, a major score that would set him up comfortably for the rest of his life. It it’s a class case of adapt or die.
As the title suggests, that is the premise of this film. It focuses on Vince as he tries to navigate around the challenges of trying to go clean whilst dealing with other dangerous ‘businessmen’. He risks losing everything including his life if this last deal goes wrong but it is a risk he is willing to take.
We often get to see films and stories about drugs and their illegality but have rarely seen any that tackle the conversation about the challenges that come with legalizing recreational drugs.
The big question is, does legalizing drugs eliminate the crime that surrounds them?
In ‘The Last Deal‘ we see that the dangers are still there. Vince buys some ‘product’ from some shady dealers and that compounds his situation when he loses it all and now has just a week to pay up the money he borrowed from the Boss (played by Sala Baker).
Jonathan Salemi, the film’s writer and director does try to be overly smart with this film. It is a simple premise and he keeps it that way. A story about a hustler looking for that final breakthrough so he can walk away. But the underlying themes are there and can’t be ignored. Vince is looking for redemption that goes beyond just monetary success. He finds out that he is on the verge of starting a family and he needs he break free from any criminal actives that could threaten his and the lives of the people he cares about.
‘The Last Deal’ offers a cast of some notable names in film, but none too big enough to outshine the others.
Anthony Molinari might not be that notable, however, but he shows pure class and talent as the centre of this story. He makes it seems as though the centre script was written for him and he nails the performance without any doubts. He makes the character Vince likeable. You find yourself rooting for him when he is faced with the toughest adversity and interestingly you find yourself understanding and supporting his choices.
The film however fails to make the best out of the character Bobby (played by Mister Fitzgerald). He is introduced as the brawn in Vince’s operation and a hitman for hire for others but we later find out that there is more to him than we initially expected, he has a daughter that he cares so much for and would do anything for. Sadly, that subplot is never fully explored. Perhaps, it would have helped broaden the narrative a bit with there being something else to focus on other than Vince and his issues. But also, it could be that there was nothing there worth wasting time on.
The film uses California as its backdrop and highlights not only the beauty of the city but the dangers of a criminal underbelly. The city provides the shadows and the ambience that danger is lurking at every turn for Vince. The fast-paced narrative style used also takes advantage of this to capture not just the high-flying enjoyable moments of Vince’s success in the drug trade but the lows and anxieties that the dangers that he is faced with also present.
Overall, “The Last Deal” is a very well-made film. It doesn’t have the look and feel of your typical small-budget indie film. It certainly has the muscle to rub shoulders with any crime thriller that comes to mind. And Molinari’s performance makes it even better.
I would score this 7/10.
I would highly recommend if you are interested in a crime thriller with a likeable lead, make sure you see this one. “The Last Deal” is available digitally starting, February 7th.