The 1970’s was the decade of the muscle car. Films like Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run raced into theatres, riding on the thrills of speed. If you were a young man, then you were right there ridin’ shotgun. Kicking butt and takin’ names. The Last American Hero makes the unfortunate attempt to combine this “need for speed” with a typical “against all odds” story. The result is a dead end street.
Junior Jackson (Bridges) is the son of a bootlegger with a real talent for running roadblocks. Wh…n his booze-making father finally takes a fall with the law, Junior turns his talents to the racing circuit. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Faced with corrupt promoters and unsportsmanlike fellow drivers, Junior must climb a mountain of adversity and finally win the big one. While the cast features some fine performances, the film just never delivers on all cylinders.
You have your choice of a full frame version found on the A side or a 2.35:1 theatrical release version on the flip side of the disc. For obvious reasons I chose the wide version. This is a low budget 1973 film, and it shows in this video transfer. Actually, the transfer was well done. There aren’t any serious specks or flaws to speak of. The problem lies squarely on the low production values of the original print. Flesh tones are often too dark. Grain is often obvious. Colors have a decidedly dated feel to them. It all looks like a Starsky and Hutch episode.
I expected more from even a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 track. This is a racing film. Where are the ground shaking engine rumbles? Yeah, you can hear the engines gun, but the sound never makes it to your subs. If you’re looking for sound to place you right in the pit of action, forget about it. This track does deliver the dialogue for the most part, but nothing more.
The film holds some minor interest for the cast. It looks more like a period piece set in 1973 rather than a contemporary of the time. Muscle car fans might find it worth a rental but nothing more. The film has absolutely no rewatchability to it. “That’s all there is to it”.