To paraphrase Han Solo, movies from the seventies don’t look like much, but they’ve got it where it counts. And if that intro seems incongruous, well, it is but it isn’t. For let’s face it, Star Wars — much as I loved it — is more or less responsible for ushering in the era of movies that look like a lot, but don’t have it where it counts.
The Last Run (1971) is a solid, unassuming European crime thriller that spins its simple story into something memorable. Harry Garmes (George C. Scott), a retired getaway driver living a peaceful life in a Portuguese fishing village, is lured out of retirement to perform one last job: delivering mafia killer Paul Rickard (Tony Musante) to France. But there’s a hitch: Rickard wants to pick up his girlfriend Claudie (Trish Van Devere) along the way. This is the first of many unexpected twists in the journey, which escalates from a milk run into a desperate fight for survival.
Benefiting greatly from rustic European scenery and solid, no-nonsese visual story-telling, The Last Run is a well crafted crime caper bolstered by Scott’s endearingly gruff performance as an aging ex-criminal battling an existential crisis. He could have used a little more help — Musante is merely decent as a loose-cannon killer, while Van Devere is flat as the shifty love interest — but fortunately Scott’s gravitas carries the day. The plot is straight-forward and effective, even if it leads to a rather expected finale. But until then, the story cooks along nicely, like Garmes’ car: not terribly flashy, but it gets the job done. I enjoyed the ride.