After spending the majority of the past decade away from the film industry in order to serve as Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his long awaited return to doing what he does best - kicking butt.
The Last Stand is Arnold's first starring role since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and it is definitely the proper vehicle to showcase what the Governator is capable of. He's an action star pure and simple and even at his advanced age he still reminds us what made his movies so much fun to watch in the 80's and 90's.
He plays Sheriff Ray Owens, a small town lawman in Sommerton Junction. He is nearing retirement age and he just wants to take things easy in this quiet and tranquil little town on the outskirts of Arizona. We are not given a ton of backstory on his character but we find out that he was a former highly decorated LAPD officer who left after a bust went awry and most of his team members were killed.
On the day this story takes place, most of the townsfolk are heading out of town to catch a football game, thus leaving it virtually deserted save for Owens, his three deputies and a few locals. At the same time, a notorious Mexican drug kingpin named Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) has just escaped federal custody in Las Vegas in spectacularly elaborate fashion and he's headed straight for Sommerton Junction with a hostage in tow, driving in a stolen, souped-up Corvette that's been modified to reach speeds of well over 200 mph. Hot on his heals is FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker), who contacts Owens and informs him of Cortez's impending arrival. It's now up to Arnie and his merry band of locals to set up a barricade and stop the ruthless baddie from making it to the border.
Of course in between we are treated to plenty of bloody shootouts, car chases and high octane action sequences courtesy of Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil, The Good, The Bad, The Weird).
Now, I'm not going to try and pass off The Last Stand as anything more than it's intending to be, and that is fun, popcorn entertainment. It is definitely not for filmgoers who are demanding and have discerning tastes. I for one have always had a soft spot for Arnie flicks, having grown up enjoying the likes of Commando, Terminator, Predator and True Lies to name a few. He had a certain charm and charisma in his films even with his broken English accent. Here he is a little bit more subdued which plays to his advanced age and works pretty well. He cracks off a few of his signature one-liners, many of them having to do with the fact that he is old.
Even though this film is quite violent and dark at times there is also plenty of humour scattered throughout, most of it courtesy of Luis Guzmán as one of the town deputies and Johnny Knoxville as a local gun nut who just happens to have a huge arsenal of weapons stashed conveniently when Arnold and company need to get prepared for the upcoming stand off.
This isn't the most original film in the world, that's for sure. It is basically a modern day version of Rio Bravo with elements of High Noon thrown in. It does have a bit of a western feel to it, albeit with automatic weapons and a lot more stunts and carnage.
Despite the fact that the film definitely has its flaws in parts, there is clearly enough action and mayhem to satisfy any fan of this particular genre. Keep your expectations in check and just enjoy it for what it is.
Even if Arnold lacks the box office cachet he once had, I for one am happy to see him back on the big screen doing what he does best - kicking ass.
I give The Last Stand a 6.5 out of 10.
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