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  • Nate Adams

'The Last Stop in Yuma County' review: Diners, bank robbers, and shoot-outs


Courtesy of Well Go Usa

 

A slick 90-minute, single location potboiler that’s got more than a few tricks up its sleeve, writer-director Francis Galluppi’s “The Last Stop in Yuma County'' features an array of colorful characters who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve probably seen that premise before, perhaps as recent as “Bad Times at the El Royale,” but “Yuma County” steers you in one direction before swerving in another. There were several moments where I thought I knew where it was headed before Galluppi threw in some unexpected surprises, and basically laughed in my face. I was happy to be wrong. 


It’s a tense, suspense riddle caper that cruises without losing sight of the predicament our ensemble find themselves in. These characters might not cut deep, but Galluppi manages to squeeze this tried-and-true formula into a fun little ride that knows exactly what it is.


Set during an unspecified period during either the late sixties or early seventies, “Yuma County” centers on a group of strangers stranded at a diner in the middle of nowhere who are awaiting a delayed fuel truck to supply the adjacent gas station, which coincidentally happens to be the last stop for 100 miles. At least there’s rhubarb pie. 


That delay doesn’t bode well for brothers Travis (Nicholas Logan - being the bumbling sidekick/token comic relief) and Beau (a quietly effective Richard Barke who enjoys raising his voice at opportune moments) who are bank robbers on-the-run towards the Mexican border. It’s not long before they take control of the diner and point a gun in the face of waitress Charlotte (Jocelin Donahue) whose attempts at notifying her sheriff husband (Michael Abbott Jr.) prove futile. The gas station owner Vernon (Faizon Love), as well as an elderly couple (Gene Jones and Robin Bartlett), in addition to numerous patrons stopping in for a quick bite, are totally unaware of the situation. 


Holed up in a small booth is a nameless, California bound traveling knife salesman played by the always reliable Jim Cummings who’s just trying to make it home and see his daughter. His character is given the most depth and his journey is, let's just say, an interesting one. Yet, nobody is safe in Galluppi’s world as the director is unafraid of dispatching key players without warning like we’ve seen a dozen times from Quentin Tarantino.


Galluppi, who has just been tapped to helm the next installment in the “Evil Dead” franchise, has delivered a confident debut feature that coasts on its own wavelength without losing its sense of unease. Once it peaks near the hour mark, all bets are off, and it’s best to sit back and see where the journey takes you. There’s a real creative flourish to the minimalist approach and despite lacking originality, “The Last Stop in Yuma County” has got plenty of moxy. 


Grade: B 


THE LAST STOP IN YUMA COUNTY is now playing in theaters and available on digital. 


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