de facto film reviews 3 stars

Francis Galluppi’s feature directorial debut, The Last Stop in Yuma County, is a simple, yet entertaining crime thriller with purpose-driven performances and a fair amount of action as well. Galluppi, who wrote, edited and directed the film, enlisted the skills of famed indie filmmaker and actor, Jim Cummings, for his lead role. This mysterious character, known only as the Knife Salesman, makes his way into a tumbleweed town outside Yuma, Arizona when his car has run out of gas.

The film seems to be set somewhere between 1973 and 1979, when an oil and gas crisis was racking America’s economy as well as the globe’s. With nowhere to go, and no gas to pump, Cummings’ salesman opts to wait inside a local diner attached to the station’s garage while a tanker is supposedly en route. This same situation happens to numerous other folks who drive by. Everything is quaint and normal until two bank robbers pull up to the gas station and begin to make everyone uncomfortable while they wait for the fuel to arrive.

The Last Stop in Yuma County (2023)

Well GO USA 

The criminals in question are two brothers, Travis and Beau, who are played to excellent effect by Nicholas Logan, and Richard Brake, respectively. The Welsh actor, Brake is particularly ghoulish when he begins to point his gun at patrons of the restaurant. Logan is a loose cannon, but equally frightening in a dumber, clumsier way. Problems arise when more and more people begin to arrive at the diner, and the two criminals must keep everyone in line while they wait for gas. Their green Ford Pinto, which is parked outside and was reported on the radio as the getaway vehicle for the robbery early the same morning, is easily recognizable in the small town.

One person in particular, Charlotte, the waitress and wife of the town’s sheriff, is assaulted by Beau and must try to find a way to get a message to her husband when the criminals cut her phone line. Played by Jocelin Donahue, Charlotte is meek and sweet. Patrons constantly refer to her as “the most beautiful waitress in town.” Cummings’ salesman allies himself with her as they try to figure out how to get the violent men out of the establishment.

The Last Stop in Yuma County'

Courtesy Well GO USA

To showcase the tension of this hostage situation, Galluppi falls back on what appears to be inspiration from none other than Quentin Tarantino. The famed director’s highly-acclaimed 1994 Pulp Fiction features a closing scene in which a couple attempts to rob and harass the patrons inside a small diner in California.  Galluppi’s placement of this idea is somewhat derivative, but instead of having the hostage situation as a small part of his movie, he chose to instead make a movie inside of that scene. And the results are entertaining, to say the least.

His employment of period-specific dress and vehicles as well as a great selection of 1970s soul and pop songs, bring life to the little town. There are numerous action scenes and shootouts which make the film feel more like a Western. Still, the premise is simple enough that most of the actors shine quite well. Cummings gives a timid performance as the down-on-his-luck knife salesman, but his transformation comes full circle by the end of the film. Brake, as mentioned before, is exceptional in his role as the antagonist and shocks the viewer multiple times with violent outbursts.

As far as first films go, this entry is impressive.  Viewers should continue to watch for writer/director Galluppi’s name in the coming years as he grows and evolves from an already stable place of strength.

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