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film reel image

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Last Deal 2023 * * 1/2 Stars


"Are we safe?" Uh no. No one is safe in 2023's The Last Deal, at least not the pseudo protagonists anyways. Henchmen and mob bosses and drug vending, double-crossing oh my! "Just Say No" my brother.

So yeah, The Last Deal is to this year what American Dream was to 2021. It's a grave thriller set to LA and its sun-filled underbellies. Low budgeted yet slick, emote-less yet dangerous, psychologically scaring yet occasionally violent, shallow yet empathetic. Viewing "Deal", you can almost smell the La Brea Tar Pits from a mile away, bones and all.

Now do I think The Last Deal could've had a better ending? Probably. Narration at the beginning and narration at the end just feels like a convenient, tack-on device for the cinematic illiterate. And do I wish "Deal" tied up its loose ends so the whole hemp back and forth could come to fruition? Yeah. I mean what happened to the dealer characters who hid a Trojan horse in order to steal a truck full of the sticky-icky?

Starring unknown actors with some solid screen presence (Anthony Molinari, Jeffri Lauren, Sala Baker), "Deal" is about a marijuana trader who needs to make one final score because his business is suffering due to the drug now being legal. That's just the blueprint for The Last Deal dives deeper down the rabbit hole via plot over plot over plot.

Just think a Scorsese student film done with limited razzmatazz. Just think David Ayer fodder but with much restraint (hence the Los Angeles locale). Director Jonathan Salemi's camerawork is divine in regards to "Deal". He uses low-angles, hand-held-s, and long shots giving the flick an atmospheric if not well nigh, noir feel. If only his coda equaled the minacious journey of narcotic moolah and merciless cutoff points. "Fair deal".

Written by Jesse Burleson 

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