Based on the book of the same title by James W. Clarke who was almost a victim of Tison during that time period, the script is an adaptation by Clarke and Álvaro Rodríguez. The film is directed by Dwight H. Little who does great work bringing this story to the screen and giving life to the script by Clarke and Rodríguez. The film takes characters that some will remember from the true story they are from and from seeing them on the news way back then. The story is told here in a way that is interesting and entertaining while looking like it’s keeping the facts fairly straight by not over-exaggerating most of the film’s story, events, and characters. Of course some changes were most likely made to keep the film going but it does not affect what looks to be the true backbone of the story. This is one of those true stories that feels like a true story and one like one of those true stories that are so far off the only true part is that people lived in that place once.
The story here is not only dependent on the writing and directing, but most definitely on the acting and lead Robert Patrick delivers. He plays a patriarch with an iron grip on his kids and a killer with no remorse. His portrayal keeps the viewer glued to the film, not wanting to miss any of his intense performance. Playing the lawman looking for him is Bruce Davison giving a strong performance and balance again Patrick’s pure evil as Gary Tison. His performance gives a look into how these kinds of events affect law enforcement members. Also giving an interesting performance is John Heard as Blackwell, the prison warden. His performance is odd but it works and it may be the last he ever did. As that, it is short, but memorable, something that some will love and others will hate. Another performance to look for is Heather Graham as Dorothy Tison, a role that required a complete de-glam of her usual self and a performance that makes her almost unrecognizable. Along with these strong performances, the rest of the cast is all very good as well.
The cinematography by Rafael Leyva is beautiful and shows the southwestern United States as a rather desolate place, using it as a layer to the story and the desperation of the characters as time goes by. His work enhances the film from something that could easily have looked like a made for TV film into something that should be seen on the big screen. Working along with this is the music by Tobias Enhus and Richard Patrick (brother of Robert and member of Filter and former member of Nine Inch Nails) who create an ambiance for the story and support all of this with very appropriate songs.
Last Rampage is a film that tackles a story many will still remember seeing on TV and in the newspaper, which it tackles well and keeps as close to the real thing as possible. The film is strong and has a powerful performance by Robert Patrick as the embodiment of pure evil. The way this film is made, directed, produced, even how it’s been colored corrected makes it feel like a late 1970’s film and has just the right style and substance to make the story work and keep the attention.