Dir: Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good the Bad the Weird, I Saw the Devil)
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Eduardo Noreiga, Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro
Synopsis: The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.
It’s been about ten years since we’ve seen Arnold lead a movie (his roles in The Expendables are really cameos) so it’s understandable that there would be some hesitation about seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger, now 65, trying to reclaim his action hero title with this. And while there is no denying he’s pretty rusty at many points, The Last Stand still manages to deliver exactly what you would suspect in a Arnold action movie.
Schwarzenegger plays Ray Owens, a former LAPD narcotics officer who left after an incident to become the sheriff of the sleepy New Mexico border town of Summerton Junction. As you expect with a small town nothing really much happens there, but that’s about to change. In a bit of Western fashion, the villain is headed their way and it’s up to the sheriff and his deputies to stop him and protect their town.
That bad guy is notorious drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Noriega), who escapes from FBI custody and is making his way towards the Mexican border in a specialized Corvette ZR1 (aka one of the fastest cars on the planet). The FBI task force boss Agent Bannister (Whitaker) thinks it’s a slim chance that Cortez will pass through Summerton, but there would be no movie if he were correct.
The rest of the cast is rounded up by Luis Guzman who plays pretty much one of the sidekicks. Jaimie Alexander (Thor) holds her own being the only real female role in the movie. Rodrigo Santoro (300) plays someone that has connections to Alexander’s character and gets a shot at redemption by helping out the crew. Peter Stormare plays his typical bad-guy role as one of Cortez’s henchman. Then there is Johnny Knoxville as the village idiot and weapons museum curator whose odd collection of weapons helps our outnumbered and outgunned heroes to save the day. He may be there as the movie’s comic relief, but its Arnold who actually gets the best funny lines (and of course his classic one liners)
As I mentioned before, Schwarzenegger has a little rust but the movie plays up that he’s getting older, perhaps not as much as The Expendables 2 did but it’s still there. Arnold is still physically imposing which helps him pass the action hero role still. Eduardo Noreiga plays kind of the cheesy movie villain giving weird and almost over dramatic performance while Whitaker tries to make his character seem more interesting than he really is. He’s really just there to provide exposition about the bad guy and to create a push and shove relationship with his character and Arnold’s small town lawman.
However, for me one of the stand outs was director Kim Jee-woon who makes his stateside debut with The Last Stand and manages, at least from what I noticed, to avoid some mistakes that some foreign filmmakers make on their first big Hollywood movies. He understands exactly what kind of movie he’s been hired to make, yet he manages to compose a few artfully staged action set-pieces, some of which involve Cortez’s corvette and some of the shootouts.
All in all, while The Last Stand is not going to win any awards for acting, it had some brief good acting scenes, it’s probably not the reason you’re really watching this movie. It’s still a ton of fun to watch and seeing Arnold back on the big screen leading a movie isn’t too bad either.
The Last Stand
4 out of 5