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Review: 'Last Seen Alive' (2022) Dir. Brian Goodman

Gerard Butler, Jaimie Alexander, Russell Hornsby, Robert Walker Branchaud, Dani Deetté, Cindy Hogan, David Kallaway and Ethan Embry

 

Originally known as 'Chase', this direct to digital action thriller is a story about hunting down and saving the one you love against dangerous odds when you're left all on your own...


Real estate broker Will Spann (Butler) is taking a trip to the in-laws with his estranged wife Lisa (Alexander) in an attempt to repair their marriage. The two have faced difficult times, but seek to find a resolution that can bring them back together.


Stopping for gas on a remote road, Lisa suddenly disappears in an evident kidnapping. Will saw and heard nothing, and no real evidence has been captured to prove what happened to her. Thrown into a swirling nightmare, Will has little to go on to find her.


Detective Paterson (Hornsby) takes up the case and struggles to clear Will of all suspicion. When it seems the law can't act, Will takes up the role of detective himself and seeks out those who have taken Lisa, and find out where she is and why she was taken before it is too late...

Director Brian Goodman switches from his usual role of starring in front of the camera, to now direct from behind it. A career made up mostly from legal, crime and law enforcement films and television shows he also helped co-write and direct, Goodman brings that levelled genre to Hollywood with a man taking the law into his own hands when the police aren’t buying his story. It’s a story that revolves around Gerard Butler’s real estate businessman who is trying to repair his marriage with adulterer wife Jaimie Alexander. Yet it all goes pear shaped with Alexander being kidnapped and the local law enforcement seemingly more interested in pinning the crime on Butler’s grizzled name.


This is a story fitting for the platform of direct to digital, and faithful the genre of action / thriller. It’s just not as action heavy as you would think being a Butler affair. Far from his ‘Has Fallen’ blockbusters, Last Seen Alive features a rather low-key cast, with only Butler and co-star Russell Hornsby being memorable, and a low-key narrative. There is no room for explosive car chases, shoot-outs, macho one-man armies or exciting police confrontations across the state. No, this is more focused on Butler’s frantic husband tracking down his wife, piecing together clues he picks up from CCTV, the in-laws and meth addicts he meets along the way.

Butler still delivers what is expected, and even with the brakes applied to his usual action hero persona, he sells the role and is the primary focus of this story where you want him to find out the truth and catch a break!

Armed with only his wavering accent, tough talking stubble, a mobile phone and crowbar, that’s enough for Butler to beat information out of anyone who tries to pull the wool over his eyes. While pictured with a gun on the marketing (guns sell more than crowbars), there’s little in terms of bang-bang action here, bar a small confrontation in the third act that sadly makes the film look cheaper than it should.


Jaimie Alexander doesn’t really get much time to shine or develop, except paint her character as one with more fault than not. It falls to Russell Hornsby as Detective Paterson to be the moist engaging man both up against Butler as he seeks the truth himself, and also trying to crack the case himself. This is Butler’s show, and so fans of him will not be disappointed by his gruff charm and delivery.

The story itself has been tried and tested but starts with a strong delivery, putting us right into the thick of things and using some nice detective work instead of bombastic shooting and action. The tension increases steadily and the pressure slowly bubbles away, led by Butler as he seeks some of the truth behind his wife’s abduction whilst deflecting the finger of blame on him.


It’s a shame the third act falls apart a little with the introduction of meth labs and some convoluted themes and morals, pushing for something that tries to be more dangerous and deadly than it needs to be to crank up the tension. There’s no real bonus to this, and it lends to a lag in the previous pacing and has an awful visual effect that belongs in the 1990s. It ruins all that comes before when it takes such a stumbling u-turn to try and throw in some excitement.

Starting with a comfortable take on the genre, 'Last Seen Alive' maintains its footing until a shaky end. Thankfully, Butler doesn't disappoint but he's the only saving grace and appeal for fans.





'Last Seen Alive' is a co-production between Voltage Pictures, Perfection Hunter Productions, G-BASE and Marc Frydman Productions


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