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Movie Review: The Last Stop in Yuma County



 

“A villain who shares in one’s guilt is inevitably more attractive than a hero convinced of one’s innocence.” - Kenneth Tynan


The allure of a good noir is undeniable. The mystery of each character, the often unassuming location, the unknown connection that brings them together. The inevitable climax of truth being revealed and oftentimes resulting in a violent burst of energy exploding with indiscriminate effect. The perspective of a film noir is usually pessimistic, its characters tend to question the state of the world believing it would be better off without people to pollute it. Of course it doesn’t always have to be so grandiose, relegating its character into pure survival mode forcing normal people in extraordinary situations. Whatever the case, the defeatist attitude of the characters tends to remain. If anything, the circumstances we watch them fight through only reinforces their cynical frame of mind. 


Now take these basic rules of noir and think about what that would look like through the lens of a Quentin Tarantino film and the end result would look something like The Last Stop in Yuma County. One of my favorite strengths of Tarantino’s writing is his ability to remain unsentimental about his characters, dispatching them when the story demands it. Writer and director Francis Galluppi, with his feature length debut, demonstrates a  similar writing style. Rather than characters served by the story, the characters serve the story in whatever way is best for its most entertaining progression. Taking away the idea of main characters being safe creates a genuinely exciting premise where anyone at any time can lose their life.



The Last Stop in Yuma County tells what is initially the very simple story of a traveling knife salesman stranded at a rural gas station awaiting a fuel truck to replenish the station currently residing on empty. The connected diner has just opened for the day and his cup is filled with fresh coffee by the owner and waitress, Charlotte, whose morning is only beginning. As their day begins, the news of the day is already peaking with a local bank robbery having just occurred. But that might as well have happened on the moon because it couldn’t possibly affect their day, right? 



Featuring mostly new faces, some familiar, it’s an entire cast of zero prominent names really allowing the notion of no one being safe to show through. If you see Tom Cruise or Chris Hemsworth at the top of the credits, odds are they’ll survive the impending shenanigans. That isn’t a problem here. What they do provide is frantic, energized performances as they encounter unprecedented interactions with strangers who will inevitably change everything about one another. Much like the story itself, the characters enter the same situation reacting in a myriad of ways from calm and cool to scared and violent. It’s a slow build up to a moment that’s alluded to from the very start of the story of a lone salesman just trying to get to his estranged family in California. 


The twists in this contained story don't just happen and then disappear without severe change both to the story overall and the character themselves. And that is the greatest strength of this thriller, the immense change that the characters endure creating entirely different people from the ones that entered the diner for a cup of coffee and a gasoline refuel. Those that were once innocent may not be so when they try to leave this desolated station. They become products of their newfound environment that promises life altering change. 



The necessary story elements stroll in at a sometimes leisurely pace but always with great intent knowing full well that if you simply hold on, if you wait, then the payoff will absolutely satisfy any and all curiosity. It makes clear from the start that this is one giant powder keg, only the length of the wick remains a mystery until the very moment it all goes up in a glory of voracious, unforgiving brutality. From there it only makes you wonder from minute to minute where it could possibly go and rarely being able to predict its ultimate outcome which I promise will end the chaos in epic fashion.



The Last Stop in Yuma County is an exciting story all its own but the promise of what the director is capable of and what his bright future is sure to deliver (He is directing the next Evil Dead installment!) is every bit as compelling. Director Francis Galluppi demonstrates great restraint when the story demands it only to allow it fantastic moments of bursting violence and engaging drama. It’s funny at times, shocking often and always enticing. The characters all have familiar tropes and tendencies but when brought together, as different as they each are from one another, these characteristics are tremendously entertaining to watch as they clash like a violent car crash. It entertains the idea of possibly ending this happily and always thinks twice about it. To allow these characters an escape from their suddenly volatile situation would mean to suggest that not all actions have consequences. Even the innocent caught in the middle (Is anyone really innocent these days?) don’t really stand a chance but I’ll leave that for you to discover yourself. The Last Stop in Yuma County is one of the more exciting pieces of cinema this year which means it will likely go criminally underseen. Let’s try to prevent that outcome, shall we?



Rated R For: violence and language

Runtime: 90 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Starring: Jim Cummings, Faizon Love, Jocelin Donahue, Richard Brake

Directed By: Francis Galluppi


Out of 10

Story: 9/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 9

OVERALL: 9/10


Buy to Own: Streaming on Prime Video.

 

Check out the trailer below:


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