I guess Hollywood’s fictional scientists learned nothing from A Clockwork Orange. Stanley Kubrick, essentially, sought to teach cinema’s most brilliant minds that you cannot alter an individual’s natural behavior. Yet that’s exactly what director F. Gary Gray is planning to do with his new film, a high-concept futuristic heist thriller called The Last Days of American Crime. In it, America responds to a second major terrorist attack by developing technology that eliminates the impulse to commit crimes of any kind. The story centers on a man leading a heist team to pull off a final job five days before the signal rubs out the criminal instinct.
Let’s make this clear. It’s not Mr. Gray who is responsible for bringing this story to the screen. You can thank Radical Publishing’s Barry Levine for that. The film is a project that he has been shepherding with Sam Worthington, who has a deal with Radical that also includes another adaptation-in-progress called Damaged. The Aussie will star as the team’s point man and will also produce with Levine and his partner Michael Schwarz. Rick Remender wrote the script, though Deadline says that Karl Gajdusek, who penned Joel Schumacher’s Trespass and will also rewrite William Monahan’s Oblivion script for Joseph Kosinski, will work on the screenplay now that a director is on board.
I like Gray as a filmmaker. Sure, he’s had a few misses like Be Cool and A Man Apart, but he’s also the guy who made Friday, Set It Off, The Negotiator and The Italian Job. The latter release sounds most closely related to what The Last Days Of American Crime has in store for us, and it is a slick heist pic that holds up against the glitzier Oceans films among other genre contenders. My biggest concern is with the story. As previously stated, I just don’t see how the hook of having the characters’ criminal instincts eradicated will entice audiences to by a ticket. Will it make moviegoers “miss” their criminal behavior? Will everyone go out after the credits and embrace their inner crook? I guess it’ll make the team work against a clock, which will increase the tension ten-fold. But if they don’t succeed in their mission, I don’t see what the big consequences will be.