You might find it reassuring that, even as the pound yo-yos and democracy unravels, there will forever be a corner of the British film industry that is grim-faced geezers in boozers toting shotguns and plotting shenanigans. This very late entry in a cycle initiated during the Blair administration attempts something a little more characterful than usual, as signalled by the presence of the great Perry Benson in the prologue as a bar owner who corks it before giving up his life insurance details to his son.
The Last Heist then involves an hour of perilously muggy business, as the lad (co-writer Michael Head, sporting a marked resemblance to the young Frank Harper) recalls his old gang to Perry’s bar to work out where their raid on the recalcitrant insurers went bloodily awry. It’s a bit Reservoir Bodge: there’s much gruff talk of codes, and a liberal scattering of the other C-word, before the film pulls a loopy twist from an otherwise threadbare sleeve.
Fair play: that left-field redirection provides a welcome jolt of energy, no matter that it may befuddle or shake off the Rise of the Footsoldier hardcore. If nothing else, The Last Heist qualifies as the first geezer-pic to feature a sincere monologue (by Terry Stone) about the toll that ducking-and-diving can take on one’s mental health. Up until then, however, Coz Greenop’s film is all too static and theatrical, stubbornly welded to its primary shooting location, and in thrall to less-than-scintillating banter that serves chiefly to set up the next flashback.
While these at least give Benson considerable opportunity for effing, jeffing and plunging the occasional head in a deep fat fryer, it leads to a deathly lack of urgency. It is overextended even at 86 minutes, and though fun, that cracker-barrel twist also propels director Greenop towards what instinctively feels like the wrong choice of ending. The Last Heist is not the worst try at this sort of material, but you can already hear it circling the bargain bin.
• The Last Heist is released on 14 November on digital platforms.