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The Last Stand Review

As a Western-inspired B-movie, The Last Stand is competent at its best and painful at its worst, amounting in its entirety to something you’d stumble across on TV at three o’clock in the morning. However, as a comeback vehicle for one of the big screen’s greatest action stars, The Last Stand is rather insulting to the legacy that Arnold Schwarzenegger has created over the past 30 years.  Plopped in the dusty town of Sommerton Junction after years on the L.A. tactical unit, Schwarzenegger’s Sherriff Ray Owens tends to the busywork associated with small town life. Enter evil drug cartel leader Gabriel Cortez who is set to be executed on one particular morning, a date he doesn’t intend to keep. Pulling off a daring escape with the help of his men, Cortez hightails it towards Mexico with only the aging Sheriff, three deputies and a wacko local to stop him. The simplistic nature of the script and heaps of clichés are certainly not strangers to the past fare of Schwarzenegger but there is something about this particular effort that feels quite lifeless, watered down if you will. That’s not to say some fun isn’t had along the way but when we’re talking about a journey from Las Vegas to Mexico, there are a whole lot of tumble weeds blowing across the landmarks.  Quite perplexing also is the lack of corny – intentionally or not – one-liners bestowed on our hero. It would seem like even the most simplistic script could come up with some eye-rollers that would sound like gold coming out of the mouth of Schwarzenegger. The announcement he’s feeling “old” after jumping through a glass door and that “he’s the Sheriff” after blasting the top of a guy's head off certainly don’t feel destined to be the new “I’ll be back.” However, surprisingly effective as the comic relief is Johnny Knoxville, who despite what the posters would have you believe, appears in cameo capacity at the most. He’s a gun-collecting nut, perpetually wearing strange hats and a bathrobe even when heading into battle. Needless to say, his arsenal comes in handy when the gang of mercenaries roles into town. Also showing up are Forrest Whitaker as the fairly incompetent FBI agent tracking Cortez and the infinitely obnoxious character actor Luis Guzman, a man always capable of making a film slightly less watchable. The great Peter Stormare also joins the party as a snarling, revolver-toting baddie.  Despite the involvement of Schwarzenegger, the real star would have to be South Korean director Kim Ji-woon, the genius behind The Good, The Bad, The Weird, who directs with flair and a great eye for action. This is his first big American production and even if the box office for The Last Stand was far from mind-blowing, any number of action movies could use his deft hand behind the camera. On the flip-side, however, (and if it was Ji-woon’s decision I’m not certain) The Last Stand suffers from an overabundance of brutal violence that at multiple junctures take it out of the moment. Schwarzenegger has certainly starred in more violent films, but none have been this gory. When we’re talking about the silly nature of the whole thing, real-world impact spatter isn’t close to necessary.  When all is said and done, it’s great to have Schwarzenegger back in action, but the man is deserving of better material than this. He’ll have two more shots in the coming years with The Tomb with Sylvester Stallone and Ten from David Ayer, so only time will tell if he still has the chops and more importantly (in Hollywood at least) if he is still the draw he once was with younger audiences. If The Last Stand is the best he’s got then the answer is certainly going to be no.


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