In the beginning of Last Man Down, a big man with a beard named John Wood (Daniel Stisen, Rise of the Footsoldier 3, Following the Wicca Man) is tied to a chair and being questioned by a bigger man named Commander Stone (Daniel Nehme, Redirected, Hard Tide). Stone is also pointing a gun at the wife of Wood. John doesn’t really have the answers Stone wants, though.
Three years later, John has moved into the woods, leaving behind what’s left of the world after a pandemic. Maria (Olga Kent), an escaped test subject, comes across his cabin and breaks up his peace and quiet. Who is being sent to get her back? Do you need to know that it’s Commander Stone?
The beginning of Last Man Down is like a blast from the 1980s. Both in terms of where they are and how big they are. It’s just like when Arnie stared down Vernon Wells in Commando or when Lundgren and Stallone did it in Rocky 4. And after years of action movies with pretty boys like Tom Cruise, it’s nice to see actors in this movie who look like they can kick your ass.
About the first 30 minutes of Last Man Down are made up of flashbacks. We find out a little bit about John’s past and how he got away after his wife was killed. We also find out that, like Maria, he seems to be immune to the virus. They had planned to use him the same way they had been using Maria before she escaped.
As a warm-up, John and Maria kill a few of Stone’s men, who don’t realize until it’s too late that John isn’t just some “timberman,” as they call him. He kills two of them while he’s going to the bathroom. That’s pretty badass, huh? John has his one-liners, just like any real action hero. After shooting an arrow through one of his opponents, he tells him, “I don’t negotiate.” When Maria asks if he has a plan to stop Stone and his men, he pulls back a tarp to show a collection of guns, grenades, and other weapons and says, “I think we can hold them off until winter.”
Director Fansu Njie and co-writers Daniel Stisen and Andreas Vasshaug were smart to give Maria a history that makes her more than just a damsel in distress. She is tough and knows how to use weapons without being an ex-military person. This makes it more believable when trained soldiers catch her off guard. Granite (Madeleine Vall, Wonder Woman) and Zahara (Natassia Malthe, Battle Drone, In the Name of the King: Two Worlds) are two other female fighters in Last Man Down, but they don’t get much screen time.
Last Man Down tries to have the same feel as old-school action movies, but it doesn’t have the budget of one. So we don’t get the big explosions from those movies or even the army of cardboard cutouts Schwarzenegger faced in Commando. But there was enough money to hire enough stuntmen to keep the gunfights and hand-to-hand fights interesting. Also, make sure there are enough extras in most scenes to be used as cannon fodder.
All of this leads up to the last half-hour, which has more deaths than the last three Steven Segal movies put together and two great fight scenes. Of course, he fights Stone, and he also has a fight with Dr. Feltspat (Stanislav Yanevski, Hostel II), who did the experiments on him and Maria. The fights don’t seem to have any tricks, except for one kick from a random extra that looks like it was sped up. This is also a plus.
Even though neither Stisen nor Nehme is a great actor, Last Man Down doesn’t ask them to do much more than growl and break heads. They should take some acting classes soon, I hope. Also, the ending is too obviously set up for a second book. But I’ll gladly watch that sequel because this is one of the best DTV action movies I’ve seen in a while.