Latter-day Hollywood murder mysteries, from “The Long Goodbye” to “The Dead Pool” to “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” provide filmmakers welcome outlets for both showbiz sensationalism and a little (at least) biting of the hand that feeds them. Oh, and sometimes cliché-mongering. “Last Looks,” directed by Tim Kirkby and based on a novel by Howard Michael Gould, opens with an ex-cop living in self-imposed ascetic exile, a circumstance that now feels as old as time, if not older.
The former officer, Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam), is called upon at the top of his personal mountain by a former partner, who asks Waldo to look into the death of the wife of a drunken TV star named Alastair Pinch, played by Mel Gibson.
Soon all heck breaks loose as a few toughs invade Waldo’s sanctum and kick the stuffing out of him while yelling stereotypical trash talk. (Throughout the movie, it seems that almost every character who commits violence against Waldo is Black or Latino.) Waldo then bikes down to a studio lot and reluctantly begins his investigation.
And then it only gets more odd. Gibson sports Colonel Sanders-like facial hair and crafts a character who’s kind of a hybrid of Oliver Reed and Rich Little (lot of accents). Edgy.
In the course of his inquiries, Waldo meets the attractive kindergarten teacher of Pinch’s child, played by Lucy Fry. This is the kind of movie in which it’s a matter of when rather than if the two characters fall into bed with each other. Tiresome.
Kirkby does keep up a jaunty pace. But he also seems preoccupied with impressing his inner hipster, as with an attitude toward race that dares you to call it cavalier. And his again edgy music choices. I, too, like the new post-prog rock group Squid, but putting their song “Sludge” over the end credits is a non sequitur. This is a picture that could have benefited from the (relatively) finer hand of Shane Black of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”
Rated R for violence, sexuality, language, adult-oriented cliché-mongering. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.