NEW YORK – Schwarzenegger is back, and his timing couldn’t be any worse. At a time when violence in movies is being scrutinized, Arnold arrives with a no-holds-barred shoot-em-up in “The Last Stand.”
Fast cars, cheeky one-liners and very, very big guns showcase this mild, pointless modern western. “The Last Stand” is a dumbed-down, mutated, contemporary version of the western classic “High Noon.” Though it’s not a remake by any stretch of the definition, the similarities are obvious. Schwarzenegger is the friendly, but exhausted Sherriff Ray Owens of the sleepy Arizona border town Sommerton Junction. The most action the town gets is from the rival football team, but when Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), the leader of an international drug cartel escapes an FBI transport and makes his way to the Mexico border via a supped-up Corvette ZR1, and by way of Arnold’s little hamlet, the town of Sommerton (with a population of 10, it seems) gets an unexpected war.
The indelible Forest Whitaker is the FBI agent hunting Cortes, but does very little hunting. He parks himself in a command center in Las Vegas and barks orders on his phone for his army of FBI guys to stop the ZR1, which, of course, they continuously fail. As expected, that’s Arnold’s job.
Schwarzenegger, along with his inexperienced deputies, ready the small town, all by their lonesome, for Cortez’s anticipated invasion and border crossing. His deputies include the tough, but romantically-stunted Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander), the goofy, wise-cracking Figgie (Luis Guzman), the naïve Jerry (Zach Gilford) and troublemaker Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro). Like “High Noon,” “The Last Stand” puts a completely superfluous clock on the screen to let us know what time it is, though never telling us Cortez is supposed to arrive on a schedule, say like… noon?
As Sheriff Ray, Schwarzenegger comes across as stiff. This Arnold 2.0 may be older and slower but he’s still fighting to be Hollywood’s biggest badass. Although, he is still finding his legs after his acting hiatus and “The Last Stand” is first starring role since leaving office. He did have minor appearances in “The Expendables” and its sequel. Though he is showing his age and these mega-action films might be too much for him -- he is a little slower at chasing the bad guys and looks awkward toting machine guns. But does it really matter? Arnold is back doing what he does best: blowing things up and dishing one-liners. He also never takes himself too seriously (thank God), which lets the audience roll with the stupidity of the film even at its lowest, most asinine moments.
We now live in a world where Johnny Knoxville is an action star. Who would have thought that day would come? The “Jackass” comedian is thrown in to the mix as the unfunny comic relief, a gun-collecting vagabond with a weapons museum conveniently located on the outskirts of town. When the going gets tough (and silly), Knoxville’s gun museum comes in mighty handy.
“The Last Stand” is acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon’s first American action movie; however the action sequences are nothing more than trite. There’s really nothing new or exciting about any of the stunts or chases, except for one brief car chase in through a corn field.
The film makes no qualms about its violence – there’s even a moment with an old granny blowing a baddie away with a shotgun. It’s crude humor, to say the least. With so much forced humor and in-your-face violence, “The Last Stand” just tries too hard on all accounts.
What is really cool about “The Last Stand”: the retro-looking movie poster.