Last Seen Alive (2022) Review!!!

Synopsis – Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife mysteriously vanishes at a gas station. He delves into the town’s criminal underbelly while running from the authorities in a race against time to find her.

My Take – Though he is often not counted along with his contemporaries, there is no denying of the fact Gerard Butler, despite mostly picking out bad-to-middling choices, has managed to carve quite a nice niche for himself in the action thriller genre ever since he broke out worldwide with his role as King Leonidas in Zack Snyder‘s 300 (2006).

While most of the films (at least in the last decade) he chooses to star are more bombastic and loud in nature, his latest, directed by Brian Goodman (What Doesn’t Kill You, Black Butterfly) and written by Marc Frydman, is comparatively far more subdued.

Originally titled Chase, though the plot of the film is achingly similar to Breakdown (1997) starring Kurt Russell, it is kept mostly realistic and simple as Butler is reduced to play an everyman who finds himself in an irregular stressful situation. But considering that it takes place mostly in two or three locations it qualifies for basic but effective thriller even if it’s riddled with B film tropes which somehow make their way into the film.

Sure, if someone goes in expecting Butler to go full Mike Banning (from the Has Fallen series) with epic action sequences, they are sure to come out disappointed at the end of 95 minutes, but for someone looking for an appropriately tense small time controlled thriller, this one is decent enough for a single watch.

The story follows Will Spann (Gerard Butler), who is driving his soon-to-be ex-wife Lisa (Jaimie Alexander) to her parent’s home to ruminate on possible options. Needing to stop at a gas station redirects the trip though, as Lisa mysteriously disappears without a trace. While he frantically engages Detective Paterson (Russell Hornsby) from the local police department and Lisa’s parents (Bruce Altman and Cindy Hogan) in a desperate attempt to find her, but as time passes and suspicion falls on him, Will is forced to take matters into his own hands, delving into the town’s criminal underbelly while running from the authorities in a race against time to find Lisa.

As expected, many threads pop up to lead us on a trail to find Lisa. The gas attendant seems to be hiding something, Lisa once had an affair, and everyone suspects Will, especially Lisa’s parents, because of the pending split. Here, director Goodman manages to make something out of a flimsy plot that has three very straightforward acts, beginning with the kidnapping, followed by the hunt, and then ending it with the outcome.

Yes, we’ve seen this plot lineage before but is well-filmed to rack up the paranoid tension. Viewers will easily identify with the way that the blame game for any unexplained situation, let alone a disappearance, can quickly escalate. A question of motive is the last gasp of narrative excitement, which is revealed to be something familiar still, but makes sense in context and is believable enough.

And the final act, when Will catches up to the wrong doers, is by far the most fun, as it doubles down on the tension and contains some pulse-pounding confrontations. Stripped down to just a few low-key scenes, your liking of this film may well vary based on one’s expectations.

As I mentioned above, if you are expecting something bigger or flashier or even something in the lines of Breakdown, you are sure to be disappointed. It offers flashbacks of a damaged marriage but in the end they don’t really amount to character development, so instead you’re entirely reliant on Butler‘s every-man persona to solve the mystery with time running out.

Performance wise, Gerard Butler does a good job and delivers a believable desperate performance. Russell Hornsby is very likable in the role of the Detective who is assigned to the case when Lisa goes missing. Jaimie Alexander doesn’t get much scope to flush out her character, but does well with whatever is in hand. In other roles, Michael Irby, Ethan Embry, Bruce Altman and Cindy Hogan are alright. On the whole, ‘Last Seen Alive’ is a decently satisfying thriller which despite its unoriginality is held together by Gerard Butler‘s intense performance.

Directed – 

Starring – Gerard Butler, Jaimie Alexander, Russell Hornsby

Rated – R

Run Time – 95 minutes

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