Movie Review: “The Last Stand”

1half-starIn “The Last Stand,” Ahhh-nuld parties like it’s 1989. Or tries to.

This is retro “Raw Deal” era Schwarzenegger, a modern day Western with the aging action hero as the sheriff dead set on stopping the army of an escaped drug lord (Eduardo Noriega) from helping the a dapper Latin psychopath racing a souped up Corvette get across the border.

“Not in MY town.”

Yes, we’ve seen this before. But do we really need a reminder of Schwarzenegger’s big-guy/big-guns/bad actor heydays?

Sleepy little Sommerton Junction on the Arizona-Mexico border is where the Austrian-accented ex-narcotics cop Ray Owen (Schwarzenegger) is sheriff, presiding over a trio of inept deputies (Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander and Zach Gilford), keeping the peace.

A suspicious character (Peter Stormare, inexplicably doing a Scandinavian/ South Carolina drawl) tips Ray that something is up long before a local farmer’s murder confirms it.

Meanwhile, the drug lord Cortez and his minions have staged an elaborate escape from Federal custody in Las Vegas, and that has FBI agent Bannister (Forest Whitaker) in a tizzy.

The bland bad guy is racing for the border. Call the sheriff, “Tell him to stay out of the way.”

Nothing doing. Better deputize, oh, the ex-Marine with the soccer star’s accent (Rodrigo Santoro) and maybe the local gun nut (Johnny Knoxville), who lends the good guys an illegal arsenal — “That’s between us and Jesus. Ain’t nothing Uncle Sam needs to know about.”

At least he brings along a “Jackass” stunt in the bargain.

It’s a junky, crowd-pleasing movie of sidekicks – Guzman and Knoxville – bad acting, over the top shootouts, and catch phrases.

“You make us immigrants look bad. Dis iz my home.”

As in the Arnold movies of old, guns aren’t merely tools — instruments for jacking up the (mostly cops) body county. They’re caressed, given girls’ names. Kinky. Creepy. VERY pre-Sandy Hook.

They hired Korean director Kim Jee-woon (the suspenseful “I Saw the Devil”) and basically stuck him with staging shootouts – a couple of OK ones  – and a couple of decent car-chases, which probably owe more to stunt coordinator Wade Allen (“Red Dawn,” “Drive”) and the need for that Chevrolet product placement.

All for a formulaic genre movie designed to reintroduce Arnold to a new generation of action audiences.  He gets to show that his years as California governor didn’t improve his acting, and that he’s an “old man” still able to hold his own in the one fist fight “The Last Stand” demands of him. He has his moments, though.

“I’ve seen enough blood and death. I know what’s coming.”

And Schwarzenegger gets to burnish his image in a 100 minute long ad for the National Rifle Association, a jokey shoot-em-up with all manner of over-armed citizenry ready and able to put down their walkers and plug a bad guy when the need arises.

Which it does, this being Arizona and with Arnold being stuck in 1989.

There are filmgoers nostalgic for this sort of fascist/gun fetishist drivel. Not me. Give me “Seven Psychopaths” any day.

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Peter Stormare, Luis Guzman

Credits: Directed by Kim Je-Woon, written by Andrew Knauer. A Lionsgate release.

Running time:1:47

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14 Responses to Movie Review: “The Last Stand”

  1. Pingback: Weekend Movies — overenthusiastic reviews for Schwarzenegger, middling for “Mama,” busted for “Broken City” | Movie Nation

  2. Brendan says:

    Fascist? You’re insane.

    • Fascist art — emphasizing the physical, the collective, love of all things martial. Guns.
      Fetish? Fondling guns, giving them girl’s names. The origin of the phrase “Gun Nut.”

  3. Terry says:

    Maybe, just maybe, you should admit you had a little bias agaisnt Arnold and this genre going in? Sure reads that way.

    • I don’t enjoy the man’s work. A terrible track record, aside from a couple of Terminators and maybe Total Recall. But if “STand” had been anything other than a cliched, violent crypto-fascist wet dream, I would have had to bite the bullet and say nice things. I have even had to do that for Polanski, on occasion.

  4. Steve says:

    Predator is probably the best action movie of the 80’s, after Aliens and A Better Tomorrow. And since when are fascists the only ones who love guns? I do not know if you noticed, but there are an awful lot of ak-47’s floating around the world these days, produced by the good ol’ USSR. They did not like their citizens having the guns; just everyone else.

    • You are out of your ever-lovin’ mind. “Predator?” I’d rather run through the early Seagal films. “Predator” worked. As an ensemble “Ten Little Indians” thing, as far as it went. Arnold at least had a logical reason (the thick accent that trips him time and again) for being in that group of Mercs.
      But Bruce Willis can act, a proper heir to Eastwood. Stallone, somewhat less so. Schwarzenegger’s mouth never fits around words in English. A bulky, scowling manikin. Suitable for “Terminator.” Little else.

  5. Pingback: Box Office: “Mama” is kicking Ahhhh-nuld’s Austrian arse | Movie Nation

  6. Mr.L says:

    I’m stunned how critics these days take a movie like this so seriously. I mean, whats the point?
    It’s typical fun shoot-em-up. Too few of those in the endless cycle of a book to a movie stuff. As far as i remember movies are made to entertain, and you should critique accordinly. When you see “Arnold” and “Guns and a lot of shooting and one liners” then it should be = a movie you shouldn’t dig too much into. You won’t find anything. Sometimes people like to watch something to take their mind of this really stupid world. If you go to a comedy and expect horror, you are going to have a bad time. Think about it. Some stuff about critisism on movies, you won’t find in books.

    • Yeah, it’s when they’re not all that entertaining that the mind wanders into “What’s with all the kinky stuff around guns?” and “The guy still can’t act, so what’s he back, trying to sell this time?” Etc.

  7. Tom Thomason says:

    This is the first time I have read your reviews and I am sad to say I was not surprised. You seem to be exactly like most other so called film critics. I have a theory that a critics only life is based in movies therefore you have no real life and like to watch a life you don’t have on the screen. Extremely bad movies you love, entertaining movies you hate. Saying that something is fascist or kinky in an Arnold movie is reading far too much into it. The one thing all of us who disagree with you try to tell you is that this type of movie is for ENTERTAINMENT. I don’t need real life in movies I have enough of it at home. A son trying to recover from cancer, a daughter and her family trying to make it but can’t afford to move out, working 12-14 hour days to pay the bills, my wife with diabetes, etc., etc. Wow I think my life is just like one of those movies critics love. I read reviews to find movies I want to see, if movie critics hate the movie 9 times out of 10 I’ll love it, if they like the movie then I know I’ll hate it. I have made the mistake of watching too many movies critics loved and I usually can’t make it more than 15 minutes. My favorite worst movie of all time was the completely meaningless “Lost in Translation”. Horrible but I made myself watch the entire thing trying to understand what it was that critics thought was so great. Second worse of all time, if I can get the title right, “? country for old men” or whatever. That was a critic’s action movie, my skin was crawling after the first 10 minutes. I would like to thank you though for letting me know of the movies I must absolutely avoid at all cost. Thanks

    • Well, thanks for signing your name to that. Comparing “Lost in Translation” to “The Last Stand” is…a first. BTW, the Stallone movie is better. Still stupid as all get out. But Sly can act and make deliver a punchline.

  8. jack says:

    I HATE liberals, especially obvious ones. Your job is to review damn films not put your stupid liberal views in it. Many of us like our guns and aren’t gun nuts, u fascist bum.

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