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.