31 December 2005 | rkbyers
A Race to the End
Subtlety is everything in understanding the Last Run. It is a movie about lost dreams and lives that didn't turn out quite like things were planned. The protagonist is not old Harry Garmes, retired and living the good life, a beautiful spot in seaside Portugal. If anything, Harry is the antagonist: he is the one who made it past all the danger only to be caught up in the real web of life. Harry thought life would be perfect, but it isn't. He wakes up at the beginning of this film and discovers he has nothing, despite having almost everything he thought he wanted. As others have said, this is existential, to be sure, but so beautifully sublime, I could only wish more movies were made like this, replete with beautiful cars for those who know, in contrast to the flashy but horrid handling boats like the bloated 428 Mustangs.
The protagonist is the car, the exquisite BMW 503. Harry comes back to the car, not all the other things surrounding the plot. He resurrects the car along with himself. Watch the careful way he sets the floats, listens to the engine the old way, with a rubber tube. He does it carefully, step by step dusting himself off at the same time. he does it with devotion and love. Harry knows that things aren't as important as living and he only feels alive when driving the car. Harry comes alive when he is driving "her" and he is only too happy to make one more run for his old employer's friends. He wants to feel again, something that the pain of life has beaten out of him slowly. Remember, Harry retired 9 years before;he knows he's a dinosaur, just like his car. He knows he is dying, albeit of complacency and scar tissue, and wants a chance at life... one more chance to be alive. He wants to dance with someone he loves. His driving mirrors real life. His love is really the car, the only thing he has left of which he is capable of loving, Trish Van Devere's underwear notwithstanding. To any car buff, the sound of the supercharger engaged in this car is a thrill beyond measure. There are no fat tires, no suspensions on the ground, no huge engines. In fact, the 503, cum supercharger wasn't even all that fast in its day. In 1971, the XJ6 with a 4.2 liter engine would have made a good match for the old Beemer. Tony Musante is perfect in the guise of the young action oriented hit-man who can only have fun by hurting and killing things. It's a perfect scenario of the modern world steamrolling art. When you add the scenery and a gorgeous Trish Van Devere, who I think later married George C., Colleen Dewhurst, whose acting is stunning, how can anyone think of a better action movie? Subtlety in art is better than flash and tinsel. Nevertheless, maybe it would lose in a ballot to what passes for art these days.