The Last American Hero, originally released in 1973, is being rereleased on DVD in the UK next week. Here are our thoughts…
The Last American Hero, starring a perplexingly young Jeff Bridges, documents a small-town American demolition derby driver who makes his way to the top of the NASCAR field with his supreme driving talent.
What The Last American Hero really lacks is depth. There’s very little emotion or potency to the film; the crux of the piece is the fairly straightforward underdog plot, with Jeff Bridges carrying it throughout. A certain American audience may find some nostalgia in the deep south country scenes, where Bridges and his friends frolic with cars and motor oil, but unless you can get fully immersed in Bridges’ character, which is near-impossible, it will be difficult to care about whether he triumphs or not come the final scenes.
One extremely noticeable and unexpected facet is the presumed product placement of Coca Cola. Not only does the beverage often appear in the film – in those little red plastic cups synonymous with America – but it even gets mentioned at one point, triggering the realisation that it must surely be a paid venture.
Overall, there’s not a huge amount to be said about The Last American Hero that isn’t entirely apparent on the surface. Fans of NASCAR and various motor racing pursuits like demolition derby will find it an enjoyable affair – though it’s clearly not a definitive film in the racing genre – while non-fans might find it quite tiresome. It’s certainly interesting to watch Bridges strut across the screen at such a young age, but there’s not a lot more to get excited about.