Film Review: The Last Stand

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 12th February 2013.

In July 1994, Arnold Schwarzenegger had his hand and shoeprints immortalised in concrete outside the iconic Mann’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Below his name is scrawled the Austrian Oak’s most famous catchphrase, “I’ll be back.” Following a disappointing “final” performance as Prince Hapi in the rather terrible Around the World in 80 Days, it was unclear if Schwarzenegger would return to the silver screen following his eight year service as Governor of California, which concluded in 2011. I’m pleased to say that Arnie has lived up to his word and will indeed be gracing our multiplexes with five new films over the next two years starting with The Last Stand.

Warming up with two cameos in the either-love-them-or-hate-them The Expendables series (for the record, I love them), Schwarzenegger is the marquee attraction once again under the direction of Korean Jee-woon Kim (responsible for the haunting I Saw the Devil). Arnie plays Sheriff Ray Owens, an ex-LAPD narcotics officer, who has retreated to the sleepy town of Sommerton Junction, Arizona for the quiet life. As you do. How many Austrian ex-LAPD narcotics officer sheriffs do you know?

When Mexican drug lord Gabriel Cortez, played by Eduardo Noriega (The Devil’s Backbone), escapes from FBI custody, only the Governator and a bunch of local characters stand between Cortez and the Mexican border, as the fugitive races towards them in a modified Chevrolet Corvette under pursuit from Forest Whitaker’s bumbling Agent John Bannister. Chaos ensues. And it’s good chaos.

The Last Stand has been rated MA 15+ in Australia and I’m not surprised. Despite a silly storyline and the presence of plenty of humour, the gun violence is bloody and explicit. Heads explode. Many blood squibs were sacrificed during the making of the film. It’s a good thing that Arnie has publically stated that he doesn’t believe that there is a parallel between film and real gun violence because if there was ever a convincing argument that the stockpiling of weapons in case of emergency is a good idea, The Last Stand is it.

Clearly Schwarzenegger has chosen to ease himself back into acting by taking on an undemanding role, a past-his-prime lawman. Many of the jokes revolve around Arnie being worn out and old. Surrounding himself with solid character actors also helps to overcome any acting rust (or is it sawdust?). Luis Guzmán and Johnny Knoxville are fun as the comic foils. Knoxville seems to be forging himself a career playing “simple” characters. Between his Jackass films and his acting credits, I’m not convinced he actually is acting. Whitaker is collecting a paycheck but brings a gravitas to his FBI agent who is always a step behind the drug lord’s henchmen, lead by the menacing Peter Stormare, of Prison Break fame.

The Last Stand is not ground breaking but will satisfy action fans who yearn for a return to the hard hitting action flicks of the eighties. The titular last stand is completely bonkers and well worth the wait.

Arnie is back. Relax, de-engage brain, hear the lamentation of the women and enjoy.

The Last Stand opens on February 21.

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Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 10:56  Leave a Comment  
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