Review: The Last Stand – There’s an old sheriff in town
If you think that the Coen Brothers’ film adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country for Old Men, would have been better if it had starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and had more explosions, bigger guns, cornball comedy, high-speed car chases and a climatic brawl – then The Last Stand, might be the movie for you.
Arnold’s last leading man role was in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and after a ten year hiatus he returns to his big screen action film roots with The Last Stand. Although he a little older, I think most fans would agree that he hasn’t missed a beat – that’s good or bad, depending on your proclivity for Schwarzenegger movies.
We first saw Schwarzenegger playing the part of a small town sheriff in the 1986 film, Raw Deal, and in The Last Stand he’s at it again, playing a cop who has had his fill of big city crime and who just wants to take it easy in some one horse town in the middle of nowhere. In this case it’s “Sommerton Junction,” Arizona; a little border town berg that (if my Google Maps search is accurate) is maybe supposed to be Somerton, Arizona. (Regardless, the movie was filmed in New Mexico and Nevada – not Arizona.)
The FBI, headed up by Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker), is escorting drug cartel kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) out of Las Vegas when the crime-boss executes an elaborate escape plan – as well as several federal agents. The suave bad guy kidnaps a sexy FBI agent (Genesis Rodriguez) and heads for the border in his souped-up Corvette that travels around 200 miles per hour.
Meanwhile, the Cortez minions, led by a dapper and demented thug named Burrell (Peter Stormare), are building a bridge across a ravine on the Arizona/Mexico border so their boss can complete his southern escape. The federal guys can’t keep up with Cortez and all his fancy car maneuverings, so it falls on sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) and his band of misfit deputies, played by Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzmán, Jaimie Alexander (Sif, from the Thor movie) and Rodrigo Santoro, to save the day.
Directed by Jee-woon Kim, The Last Stand is actually a pretty big deal in the world of movies. Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Arnold Schwarzenegger was once one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – if not the biggest. He walked away from acting to spend eight years as the Governor of California and now seems to be picking up right where he left off; and this film revels in all of the classic Arnold elements – like corny one-liners, over the top action sequences, macho machine-gunning and simple good versus evil plotlines.
Knoxville and Guzmán are a lot of fun as the Larry & Curly to Schwarzenegger’s Moe and let’s face it, even though there is enough gun violence (most of it directed towards cops) in this movie to make the NRA blush; this is really just a mindless live-action cartoon. Car aficionados (of which I am not – so forgive me if I get these models wrong) will also enjoy seeing a ZR1 Vette and a ZL1 Camaro completely demolish each other – or maybe you won’t enjoy seeing that.
If you didn’t dig Arnold in his 1980’s heyday, then you’re certainly not going to like the older, post-public-service and hired-help affair version of the man any better. But if your idea of a fun Saturday morning is kicking back with a big bag of popcorn and watching the former Mr. Universe give the bad guys what for – then you are in for an old familiar treat. Grade: 6/10