Last Looks is Tim Kirkby’s newest film, a neo noir adaptation of the Howard Michael Gould novel of the same name. Last Looks follows disgraced ex LAPD detective Charlie Waldo who has moved to the woods in order to seclude himself away from his past demons and the city of Los Angeles. But his peaceful life is suddenly interrupted when his old friend and private investigator comes back into his life to recruit him for a high-profile murder investigation.
A television star is accused of killing his wife, but because of his constant state of black out drunkenness he can’t remember the night his wife was killed. Waldo is pulled into a mystery full of twists and turns that dives into the outlandishness of Hollywood’s rich and famous.
The Illuminerdi had the opportunity to speak with Last Looks director Tim Kirkby about his new neo noir film and how he incorporated police corruption through the idea of incompetency, a broken judicial system, and a cop ousted for trying to do the right thing.
TIM KIRKSBY TALKS ABOUT INCORPORATING POLICE CORRUPTION INTO WALDO’S ORIGIN IN LAST LOOKS
“I think in the last few years we’ve been so exposed to brilliant documentaries that open up cases of wrongly convicted people. And there’s cases for and against. So, I think the public are all of a sudden incredibly heightened and aware of how the police operate, certainly in L.A. I think Waldo has this fascinating insight, he’s a victim of his own hubris within the organization. He was the hero of a case but then he burned the bridges and lit a fire under it. And just went completely against what he believed in.
There’s that one scene which is probably the most dramatic scene in the film where he outpours and you sort of see the reason why he can’t move on. And even he can’t fix that problem. He can’t go back and fix that or even address it. He’s frozen in the decision that was taken at that moment. That was brought on by him. So yes, he’s very much a sort of an example of something, of guilt in its purest form. Because he’s trying to work against his, who he represents, everything he’s worked up towards.
And he can’t move on. And I think that’s, I would imagine with cases with which are debatable all around the world but there must be that conflict that one has. Either you bury the decision and move on or you convince yourself that it didn’t happen. Or you outpour it, you put it out there. And that’s Waldo did. He just couldn’t live with the decision that was taken.”
Charlie Waldo is an impressive detective who climbed the ladder in the LAPD quickly and became a hero to the public after closing a high profile case. However, his life came crashing down around him when he learned the truth about this case and that an innocent man’s life was ruined because of his own actions. Waldo has been haunted not only by this truth, but his actions in the face of a broken system that robbed an innocent man of his life even after the truth came out. Waldo was quick to go public with this information and because of it is considered persona non grada to the police force even though he was right.
Last Look’s exploration of a broken system, police incompetence, and corruption through the idea of the blue wall not only is very timely, but perfectly fits into the neo noir genre. Waldo is not only haunted by the brokenness of the system he once served, but his actions and the police force he once dedicated his life to. Although Waldo did the right thing when he learned the truth, he is seen either as a hero or a traitor depending on who one asks, while he seems to see himself as a failure needing to serve a kind of self imposed penance with his new secluded life style.
What’s interesting is that Last Looks is less about dirty cops in the traditional sense and instead touches on the “blue wall” and the idea of loyalty amongst the police even when it can prove detrimental. Waldo’s backstory and demons are also heavily tied to the brokenness of the judicial system and how difficult it is to unrig an arrest and prosecution of an innocent person.
Incorporating this corruption into Waldo’s origin and making it a driving force for his character explains why he takes the case. Although reluctant to return to the world his need to be sure that the system doesn’t ruin another innocent man is palpable and his resentment towards the LAPD and the system gives this character that has a number of more comedic qualities an interesting depth and pathos.
One scene stands out as Waldo confronts the LAPD about their shoddy evidence and instead of listening or taking his thoughts into account he is treated as the enemy and called a “rat.” It is more important to the LAPD that Waldo understands his place then it is to find the truth about the case they are supposedly working. This “blue wall” of silence, this need to protect their institution at any cost, is an example of corruption but not in the traditionally shown sense.
Last Looks doesn’t necessarily look at cops on the take as part of a larger conspiracy, unless one sees the judicial system as a whole as a conspiracy. Instead it looks at the brokenness of the system and the people who protect said system, even at the cost of those who it is meant to serve and protect.
The way that Last Looks makes this an integral part of Waldo’s origins without it overtaking the mystery or the comedic elements is an impressive balancing act. Last Looks is able to infuse some intriguing social commentary into the film without it becoming the main story, an impressive feat especially with this corruption lining up with the traditional noir tropes, but not in the way one might expect.
Last Looks stars Charlie Hunnam, Mel Gibson, Lucy Fry, Rupert Friend, Morena Baccarin, Jacob Scipio, and Clancy Brown. Last Looks is written by Howard Michael Gould based on his novel of the same name and directed by Tim Kirkby. Last Looks is in theaters and available on video on demand now. Are you going to watch Last Looks? Are you a fan of noir detective films like Chinatown and The Big Sleep? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more.