Set in the sleazy world of orgainised crime, David Bourke's Last Exit charts the downwards spiral of a man clearly out of his depth. When Nigel (Vogelius) moves to Denmark - seeking time and distance to sort out his life and his debts - the lure of a nice, quick little earner is enough for him to fall into the web of a crime boss known as 'The President'. Ignoring a warning that the nature of the work is "sometimes easy, sometimes not so easy", Nigel finds the heat is well and truly on when his first task ends in failure. Now, The President gives him a second (and final) chance to earn his corn while the two women in his life seek total control.
On the surface, Last Exit may initially suggest nothing more than the latest in a line of narcotics-based thrillers with stock characters popping out of every nook and cranny. Look a little deeper, however, and you'll find a cool, sexy drama that's smart enough to create a palpable air of menace which often eludes many films in this genre. There is no overtly graphic violence here, though that's not to say Last Exit is backwards at coming forward. Ottesen's President makes for a truly terrifying agent of evil, with mood swings ranging from simmering aggression to full-on violent outbursts, designed to put the fear of god into cast and audience: the scene involving a hammer, a spoon and an eyeball - presided over by the enraged enterpreneur - being a case in point. Ottesen may well be the most memorable character here, but Vogelius acquits himself well, as do Gry Bay's gorgeous, deranged hooker and Philipsen's drug-addicted spouse.
Although it's impossible to find a reputable character of note, Last Exit does work on an emotional level, prompting one to care about the trio of central characters, with Nigel's fate inspring real cause for concern.
Director/scriptwriter Bourke also majors on global and philosophical concerns, using Jimmy (Sherry) - a drugs dealer - to take things to a higher plane: think Mike Leigh's Naked and you're halfway there, as Jimmy ponders the meaning of life while also suggesting a guardian angel role straight out of Wings Of Desire.
A word, too, for DOP Andre Moulin whose photography beautifully captures a seedy world, lit by garish colours and accompanied by an ecelectic soundtrack which bears repeated plays; with or without the film. One would hope that Bourke and Moulin will stick together and build on what seems to be a mutually receptive partnership.
The DVD screener of this film reveals a nice, colourful transfer, complimenting some skilful editing with not two, but three cruel twists. Now, what was it Jimmy was saying?