The Last Patrol
½*/**** Image B Sound C-
starring Dolph Lundgren, Sherri Alexander, Joe Michael Burke, Rebecca Cross
screenplay by Stephen J. Brackely and Pamela K. Long
directed by Sheldon Lettich
by Walter Chaw I thought I was following along with The Last Warrior pretty well until star Dolph Lundgren met up with a school bus full of "Fat Albert" extras, led by the mystical shaman cum flower child, Rainbow (Brook Susan Parker). Set in a post-a-quake-alyptic California, where the Golden state is an island hemmed in by ocean and crawling with loonies and mutants, our story follows a small band of military types who have established some sort of refuge in the desert. When Captain Nick Preston (Lundgren) reminisces about the before-time, in the long, long ago when he befriended Rainbow the hippie and her cute-costumed tribe of Cosby-style moppets, The Last Warrior goes from being an incomprehensible and dull bit of cheap-o nonsense to an incomprehensible and dull bit of cheap-o new age psychobabble nonsense. I consoled myself with the supposition that the flashback is meant to provide a Lilies in the Field moment of uplift and an "in" to the inevitable pyrotechnics of the final act, but when Rainbow reappears from nowhere at the conclusion and makes it rain by gibbering incoherently and dancing in a circle, I sort of gave up.
The entire first two-thirds of the film is interested in a "Gilligan's Island" sort of intrigue, with Candy the bimbo (Meg Ryan lookalike Rebecca Cross), McBride the butch bimbo (Sherri Alexander), Lucky the grunt (Joe Michael Burke), and Cooky the crusty comic relief (Ze-ev Revach) each having a minor crisis that is solved by the implacable Captain Nick (Lundgren). To add some friction (I guess) to this bucolic refuge comes a suspicious-seeming person wearing the uniform of the army but betraying little to no military knowledge. If you're thinking of The Postman, you're on the right track--interestingly enough, by the end of The Last Warrior, you'll also be thinking of another future-set Kevin Costner opus, Waterworld.
After nothing at all happens for the longest time save for an almost-peek at Candy naked in a shower and the appearance of a trio of sick goats, the milk of which makes a middle-aged married couple sort of sick for a little while, Captain Nick is forced to rescue a kidnapped Candy from a prison full of opium-addled nutjobs. That Candy hasn't been plundered by an institution populated entirely by psychotic inmates is only mildly surprising when taken with larger questions like, "Why is there a society of mutants at all, much less just a few months after, an earthquake?" and, "Who's Rainbow and why can she make it rain?"
I also wondered why she wanted to cause a downpour to start with, and how those native spiritual/religious images of baptism and rebirth tied into Dolph finally kicking ass in the last five minutes. And then it came to me, after a fashion: Lundgren has a masters in chemical engineering and is the recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. The man's a genius, you see, and inscrutable new age pop images are most likely appealing to him. He doesn't look as toned-up as he has in the past, certainly not as big as he was for Universal Soldier, Masters of the Universe, or Rocky IV, and probably owing to a burgeoning paunch, Lundgren doesn't take his shirt off even once. I figured out that The Last Warrior, almost entirely without action and full of impenetrable subplots and meandering conversations, must be the D-grade action star's attempt to transcend the genre into which he's been shoehorned for his entire career. The Last Warrior, you see, isn't so much a boring and preposterous series of nothings as it is a desperate cry for help from a smart man who has no aptitude for his chosen vocation. A desperate cry for help that happens, incidentally, to be boring and preposterous.
Artisan's DVD presents the film in a nice fullscreen transfer. Its desert colours are bright and sharp, shadow detail (what there is of it) is well-modulated, and there's no trace of compression artifacting. A flat Dolby 2.0 surround mix rumbles with enthusiasm during the film's two perfunctory explosions and provides a nice, clear reproduction of the insipid dialogue. A faithfully dull trailer and the standard cast and crew biographies round out the disc. Originally published: August 26, 2001.