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Last Man Standing (1996)

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A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town.

Director:

Walter Hill

Writers:

Ryûzô Kikushima (story), Akira Kurosawa (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Willis ... John Smith
Bruce Dern ... Sheriff Ed Galt
William Sanderson ... Joe Monday
Christopher Walken ... Hickey
David Patrick Kelly ... Doyle
Karina Lombard ... Felina
Ned Eisenberg ... Fredo Strozzi
Alexandra Powers ... Lucy Kolinski
Michael Imperioli ... Giorgio Carmonte
Ken Jenkins ... Capt. Tom Pickett
R.D. Call ... Jack McCool
Ted Markland ... Deputy Bob
Leslie Mann ... Wanda
Patrick Kilpatrick ... Finn
Luis Contreras ... Comandante Ramirez
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Storyline

John Smith is an amoral gunslinger in the days of Prohibition. On the lam from his latest (unspecified) exploits, he happens upon the town of Jericho, Texas. Actually, calling Jericho a town would be too generous--it has become more like a ghost town, since two warring gangs have 'driven off all the decent folk.' Smith sees this as an opportunity to play both sides off against each other, earning himself a nice piece of change as a hired gun. Despite his strictly avowed mercenary intentions, he finds himself risking his life for his, albeit skewed, sense of honor.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In a town with no justice, there is only one law... Every man for himself. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong violence and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

20 September 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gundown See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$67,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,010,331, 22 September 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$17,600,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$33,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (CFI)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Remar was Walter Hill's original choice for the role of Hickey, but the studio chose Christopher Walken for the part. See more »

Goofs

At the very beginning of the movie there is a shot of Smith driving towards town and there is nothing but desert. In the next scene we see power poles following the road into town.

The power for Jericho comes from gas generators (Smith's conversation with the bartender); Jericho is in the middle of nowhere. The poles shown only extend so far and their sole purpose is to provide light just so far out-of-town because the town has few resources. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
John Smith: It's a funny thing. No matter how low you sink there's still a right and wrong. You always end up choosing. You go one way so you can try to live with yourself. You go the other, you'd still be walkin' around, but you're dead and you don't even know it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: The Worst Films of 1996 (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

You Got To Reap What You Sow
Written by Leory Carr
Performed by Ry Cooder
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Breaks no new ground, but Hill and Willis make it watchable.
27 December 2011 | by oneguyramblingSee all my reviews

Not much rattles John Smith (Bruce Willis), he has the sort of unflappable self-confidence that requires not an absolute belief in one's own abilities, but the misguided thought that one could control the uncontrollable.

Random gunfire, warring crime gangs and deceitful backstabbing women are not a concern to Mr Smith. Even when it seems that all three factors are conspiring to end his existence he doesn't feel that the combined threat even warrants a facial expression. Were he wearing a heart rate monitor I am sure the testers might remove it after gun battles to see if it was turned on.

So when John Smith wanders casually into Jericho, Texas in his 1920s jalopy looking for whisky and a map, only to find desolation, despair and death, he sees opportunity.

The rival gangs that wrestle for control of the town are lead by an Irish guy named Doyle (David Patrick Kelly) and a slick group of Italians lead by Strozzi. The precious few other citizens of Jericho include an apathetic sheriff (Bruce Dern) - who could care less as long as the violence remains within certain parameters - various hookers, a saloon owner who runs a perpetually empty saloon and an undertaker for whom business is booming.

And over the coming days it'll only get better.

Smith is immediately 'noticed' upon arriving in town and when the initial intimidation tactics fail he is headhunted for a new vacancy in the Doyle gang. The Strozzi gang gets wind and decides the new gun must work for them.

Smith doesn't care who he works for as long as the cheque clears, and he spends a considerable amount of time alternating between siding with - and blowing away - employees on both sides in gloriously exaggerated fashion.

Take one scene for example where Smith visits a local 'working girl' and midway through 'festivities' he is thrown headlong into a gun fight with several heavily armed bad guys. After pulling two pistols - I don't want to know where from -in the span of a few seconds a buck-nekkid Smith takes down his assailants in a hail of bullets, as if this isn't the oddest thing to happen that day...

As the body count piles up and tensions rise it is obvious that Smith will eventually have to either choose a side or simply take both gangs down personally. For the main part the film is generally reasonably quiet, only punctuated by dialogue so dry that the actors cough dust and insanely loud gunfire from handguns that seemingly never run out of bullets.

Bruce maintains the same squint and set jaw throughout the entire film. If he divided his paypacket by lines of dialogue or facial expressions then his salary would be the highest in film history this side of Holly Hunter in The Piano, who might I remind you was mute.

Christopher Walken also appears as the menacingly homicidal and universally feared Hickey, the only guy in town with a machine gun and Doyle's right hand man, and as always he takes every opportunity to chew up the scenery and in this case blow a lot of it away.

The finale is both preposterous and a little confusing, but then again that is to be expected where on more than one occasion one man with two guns can take down a roomful of trained gunmen before they can even raise their own weapons.

Despite the simplicity and illogical elements I liked Last Man Standing. Bruce once again played the underdog only this time with little doubt that he would emerge victorious, even though he gets the living crap kicked out of him a couple times, and the well directed action sequences are in the main bloodless and suitably gymnastic, with the recipients of some of the many bullets seemingly propelled dozens of metres backwards and flipping over an over again seconds after being shot.

Special mention too to the quiet, quiet, quiet, LOUD dirty blues that serves as the score here, it was both familiar but a different approach to the usual action movie backdrop.

Final Rating - 6 / 10. Bruce Willis was hardly breaking new ground when he agreed to do this, but at the same time director Walter Hill managed to make what could have easily been a formulaic action film into something at least worth watching.


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