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Last Seen Alive is an enjoyable but by the numbers thriller
With the help of director Brian Goodman, Gerard Butler tones down his action hero heroics in Voltage Pictures Last Seen Alive. Lisa Spann (Jamie Alexander) and Will Spann (Butler) are at the brink of ending their marriage. Lisa mysteriously disappears from a gas station on her way to see her parents, Barry (Bruce Altman) and Anna (Cindy Hogan).
It is as a result of this tragedy that Will is tasked with searching for her in conjunction with her parents and the local police. After a while, he becomes a suspect, and as time passes, he takes matters into his own hands, evading the authorities led by the determined Detective Patterson (Russell Hornsby) as he tries to escape the authorities’ grasp.
Scriptwriter Marc Frydman is credited with writing the screenplay for the suspense drama and he begins it with a circular plot structure, with Patterson integrating a possible prep (Ethan Embry) besides his own, whose name has not yet been revealed. We then cut to Will and Lisa listening to Brian McKnight’s timeless love song “Back At One,” and our plot kicks off.
Two films in the nineties, Kiefer Sutherland’s The Vanishing (a remake of a 1988 French-Dutch film of the same name) and Kurt Russell’s Breakdown, explored similar themes, and I found both films enjoyable. Brian Goodman, who started his career as an actor, seems to have found his niche with Last Seen Alive, his third film as a director.
The running time is under 100 minutes and wastes no time thrusting us into Will’s predicament.
I expected Butler to bust heads early on, but sans a few scenes, he is more subdued in this film. Butler uses his wit to track down his wife and only resorts to more aggressive means when required. There are even a few moments where Butler shows some emotional depth. Now it is nothing Oscar-worthy, but I could to what his character was going through. In contrast, Russell Hornsby is just someone I enjoy watching on screen, so any chance I get to see him act, I appreciate it.
The actors who round out the supporting cast fall into the type of caricature a film of this sort requires. You immediately know our big bad and where the film will go. The film has a few chances to make a twist that involved Jamie Alexander’s character. Particularly and the reason for her separation from Will, but the film decided to avoid this angle. Granted, on the one hand, fleshing out this angle may have made for a richer plot devolvement.
However, Last Seen Alive has a goal of being a quick thriller rather than an extensive series, so I am willing to let the underwriting of Lisa slide. Last Seen Alive is not winning awards and will be forgotten in a few weeks. Nevertheless, as a one-time watch, I can recommend the film.
Final Grade: C+
Last Seen Alive is available for rent at your local Redbox and for streaming
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