THE LAST STAND
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Arnold Schwarzenegger as RAY OWENS
Johnny Knoxville as LEWIS DINKUM
Luis Guzman as MIKE FIGUEROLA
Jaimie Alexander as SARAH TORRANCE
Rodrigo Santoro as FRANK MARTINEZ
Genesis Rodriguez as AGENT ELLEN RICHARDS
Eduardo Noriega as GABRIEL CORTEZ
Forest Whitaker as AGNET JOHN BANNISTER
Peter Stormare as BURRELL
Directed by: Jee-woon Kim
BY KEVIN CARR
Politics aside, the biggest issue I had with Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming governor of California was that this career path took him out of the action film business.
That’s not to say that he had a perfect run in movies in the late 90s and early 2000s. There were plenty of disappointments in there (like “End of Days”) and a few downright awful movies (like “Batman and Robin” as well as cameos in “The Rundown” and “Around the World in 80 Days”). However, ever since the mid-1980s, I could count on some fun diversions in the theater with the movie star.
However, when you bow out of filmmaking for the better part of a decade and resurface when you’re old enough to have an AARP card, the return to form isn’t always that graceful.
Still, Arnold returning to a starring role (which seemed a good launching point from his more-or-less supporting role in “The Expendables 2”) was something I really responded to. “The Last Stand” was cut from the same cloth of the old school, smaller-scale movies Arnold did in the 80s and 90s.
As much as I enjoy movies like “The Terminator” films, “True Lies” and even “Last Action Hero,” I still get a lot of enjoyment out of Arnold’s movies that weren’t meant to break box office records or log in the highest payment for an action star. I have a real soft spot for films like “Commando,” “The Running Man” and “Red Heat.” In fact, these are the films that defined Arnold’s career for me more than his massive-budgeted films.
“The Last Stand” takes an older and less able Schwarzenegger and makes this sort of story work again. Arnold plays the sheriff of a small town near the Mexican border. An escaped drug kingpin is roaring across the highways in the fasted car on the planet, planning to cross the border just south of the town. With the Federal authorities far behind, it’s up to the sheriff and his deputies to stop the man before he makes his way to freedom.
This film did not fare well at all in the theaters, but I blame that more on the fact that the target movie going audience that Arnold was going for were ten or eleven years old when he last made an action film. And fans who were ripe for seeing this movie back in 2003 now have other commitments – like spouses and kids, and a desire to be in bed at a reasonable hour.
“The Last Stand” isn’t a terribly complex film, and it falls into cliche pretty easy (and quite comfortably, I might add). However, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. There’s a lot of R-rated movie violence in it, which has fallen out of favor with some audiences and studios, but it should play well on cable and home video. In fact, had this been released in the 80s, it would have been one of those films that every teenage boy discovers on HBO during summer vacation.
The characters have just enough depth that you can care for them, but they’re cut from cardboard stock and two-dimensional enough that their stories don’t overshadow the hedonistic want of explosions and car chases. As far as stories go, again, it’s pretty standard. There are a couple twists and turns in the writing, but nothing you can’t see coming from a mile away.
Like any solid old-school action flick, “The Last Stand” takes some time as it moves through he first hour of its running time. In fact, without the climax, the movie might even be a dud. But like the aforementioned “Commando,” this movie is impossible to not love for its righteously explosive finale.
In the end, I don’t care if Arnold Schwarzenegger makes another “Conan the Barbarian” or “Terminator” movie if I could get a steady stream of these throwback movies for the rest of his career.
The Blu-ray runs a bit thin, and it could have done with a commentary track, though language barriers with a Korean director made that less than possible. There are some nice featurettes, including “Not in My Town: Making The Last Stand,” “Cornfield Chaos: Scene Breakdown,” “The Dinkum Firearm and Historic Weaponry Museum Tour” and “Act-Cam Anarchy with Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander.” The bonus features menu is rounded out with a slate of deleted and extended scenes.