01 February 2013

The Last Stand

It has been a stretch since Ah-nold Schwarzenegger has headlined a film.  You have to go all the way back to 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and one year farther if you want a non-sequel with Collateral Damage.  He had small cameos while serving as the Govenator of California, but The Last Stand is his return to top billing at the box office.

The Last Stand tells a simple story.  A fugitive of high importance, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), has escaped while being transferred in Los Angeles, and is on a crash course to get over the border to Mexico where his cartel can protect.  This course leased him through a small town where Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger), an ex-vice cop from LA, is Sheriff.  So, with the aid of a stolen highly modified Corvette ZR1, Cortez takes FBI Agent Ellen Richards (Genesis Rodriguez) hostage and heads for home.

Owens and his deputies, Sarrah (Jaimie Alexander) and Mike (Luis Guzman), must find a way to slow Cortez down, giving Agent Bannister (Forest Whitaker) and his FBI team time to get help to them.  Owens enlists the help of gun-nut Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) and perpetual perp Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) to help in the cause.  Meanwhile, Cortez has a group aiding in his escape led by Burrell (Peter Stormare) already in place in Owens’s town.  Now, Owens must fight a two-fronted battle out manned, possibly out gunned, and save his town.

This all may sound ridiculous, but it worked for me.  I am a huge fan of Arnold’s work in crazy action movies like Commando, The 6th Day, and EraserThe Last Stand fits right in with these.  It is not going to be remembered in the same league with Terminator, Predator, True Lies or Total Recall, but it sure won’t be put with the filth like End of Days, Batman & Robin or Jingle All the WayThe Last Stand feels like a natural progression of an aging action star.

Where this movie falls short is in the supporting roles.  Forest Whitaker is all over the board.  I blame the inexperience of director Jee-woon Kim for that.  You can also put a little blame on Kim for the poor southern accent that Peter Stormare tries to pull off.  His accent comes and goes from scene to scene, or even line to line.  I also put blame on the screenwriters for the Dinkum character.  Knoxville’s character needed more screen time, or to be cut all together.  He was in it just enough to not work.  There are plenty of plot holes, and reasoning that do not make sense, but it doesn’t detract from what it is trying to do.  Then, there is the issue of the old lady toward the end.  When you see this film, and you should, you will know what I am talking about.  She was too much.

The Last Stand works better and is more entertaining than it should have been.  It also serves well as a 107 minute commercial for how badass a Corvette ZR1 can be.  I am just saddened that The Last Stand opened in ninth place and has fallen from there.  It is too bad that the public did not want to give Arnold another chance.  You should see this in theaters before it is too late.  Stallone’s new film, Bullet to the Head, is God-awful.  Give this a chance instead.

RATING: 6.5/10