MOVIE REVIEW OF ”EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM”

Everything goes sideways for the wicked villains in writer & director Christian Sesma’s gritty but formulaic revenge thriller “Every Last One of Them” (**1/2 out of ****), when a father searching for his missing daughter upsets their best laid plans.

Clocking in at a minimal but muscular 82 minutes, Sesma’s eleventh feature film received an R rating for violence, sexual assault, drug use, profane language, and frontal nudity. Nefarious Ben Nichols (Jake Weber of “Meet Joe Black”) rules the small California town of Coachella near the Salton Sea like a tyrant.

He has brokered a lucrative water deal with a local Native American tribe which will generate billions for everybody. Ben’s odious twentysomething offspring, Bobby (newcomer Hudson Garland), manages one of his dad’s nude bars. When he isn’t guzzling beer and harassing his half-clad strippers, Bobby throws impromptu parties in his trailer.

Everybody is either shooting heroin or snorting cocaine. Inevitably, tragedy strikes when Bobby hooks up with a runaway girl, Melissa (Claire Kniaz of “Pinkapotamus”), who is estranged from her father. Meantime, this ill-fated liaison will overshadow Ben’s business that his sister Maggie (Taryn Manning of “White Oleander”) and he have forged with the Native Americans.

 Clearly, Sesma and his three scenarists must love “First Blood” (1982) with Sylvester Stallone because they plundered it for their plot. Like John Jay Rambo, Jake Hunter remains cool under fire even when he is outnumbered and outgunned. Eventually, Hunter’s former military commander, Murphy (Richard Dreyfus of “Jaws”), intervenes on his behalf, much like Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna) did for Stallone’s Rambo in “First Blood.”

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“Every Last One of Them” differs from the garden variety of revenge thrillers because its protagonist is deeply troubled about the disappearance of his 19-year-old daughter. A black ops combat veteran, Jake wields firearms with consummate skill.

Nevertheless, he bawls like a baby over the blunders he made because he was often away from his wife and family when Melissa needed him. Consequently, he alienated his rebellious daughter. As Jake’s confidante, Bill (Michael Madsen of “Die Another Day”) agrees to help Jake’s wayward daughter overcome her various addictions. Unfortunately, Bill cannot help Melissa once she involves herself with Bobby Nichols.

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 “Every Last One of Them” unfolds with Jake Hunter entering Bobby’s bar. He is minding his own business when he runs afoul of Ben’s arrogant son. Jake tries to sidle past him, but Bobby seizes Jake by the shoulder and spins him around so they face each other. Grabbing Bobby by his neck, our hero slams the youth face down into the bar twice.

His nose broken, a dazed Bobby staggers backwards. Jake easily disposes of the three bouncers before Ben Nichols appears with two armed bodyguards. One shoves the muzzle of his pistol into Jake’s neck. Our hero leans against the bar but refuses to identify himself.

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Without warning, the henchman with his gun stuck in Jake’s neck slugs him unconscious. Between this scene and Jake’s next scene, Sesma shifts into flashback mode to introduce Jake’s daughter Melissa as she strolls down a deserted highway.

Melissa has been trying to reach Jake on her cellphone. Desperately, she wants to get off drugs and clean up her act. Eventually, Jake recovers consciousness and finds himself in an interrogation room at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. No matter what he does, Ben cannot persuade Jake to cooperate with him.

Ben’s bodyguards shove a plastic bag over Jake’s head after their boss leaves and try to asphyxiate him. Sheriff Kim (Mary Christina Brown of “Paydirt”) rushes in and prevents them from suffocating him. Afterward, Jake surprises Sheriff Kim, disarms her, steals a police car, and races off to the Nichols’ sprawling palm tree plantation for a showdown.

 When Jake Hunter isn’t shooting adversaries, he sheds profuse tears over his daughter who fell in with Bobby’s depraved bunch. Although he injected heroin into Melissa, Bobby didn’t drown her in a pond on the family property. Revenge heroes are supposed to suffer, and Jake is so grief-stricken that he kills his adversaries without mercy.

Nothing about the violence in “Every Last One of Them” is glamorous. Hunter doesn’t qualify as a traditional hero. He refuses to play fair. He never gives his enemies the benefit of the doubt. Whether his nemeses are armed or not, Hunter shoots or stabs them without a qualm of concern.

Usually, Hollywood sugarcoats its action heroes, so audiences will sympathize with their predicament. Hunter stabs an obnoxious villain in the neck after the goon refuses to shut up and die. Hunter is beyond mercy by the loss of his daughter.

 Sesma leaves neither his heroes nor his audience feeling triumphant at fade-out. Primarily, you feel relief when the end credits roll. Stone cold thriller that it is, “Every Last One of Them” shuns humor and has no comic relief characters. Paul Sloan is thoroughly believable as the angst-ridden father.

Richard Dreyfus is always a joy to watch, and the Oscar winning actor is no less animated in this abrasive little epic. His timely intervention in Hunter’s plight is probably the most brazen act. He fools Ben and Maggie Nichols into thinking he is acting on their behalf.

Literally, Dreyfus takes charge of the situation and smooths everybody’s feathers. Sadly, Michael Madsen is wasted in a peripheral role and never picks up a pistol. Hardcore action junkies who crave above-average, B-movie revenge yarns with all the right cliches should savor “Every Last One of Them” for the offbeat but tragic actioneer that it is.

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