In recent years, “I’ll be back”, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic quote from THE TERMINATOR, has been his catchphrase, be it at political functions as Governor of California, or at film premieres or interviews – in fact whenever a microphone or camera was in the vicinity – out it would come. Now he has finally turned his words into action and, following his brief cameo appearances in THE EXEPNDABLES 1 & 2, we can now enjoy his true comeback as an action star in THE LAST STAND.
Directed by Kim Jee-Woon (I SAW THE DEVIL), Arnie plays Sheriff Ray Owens, whose job is to keep the peace in the tiny town of Sommerton Junction by the Mexican border. Nor is there much peace to keep for Owen and his team: rescuing the occasional cat from a tree, or writing out the odd parking ticket is considered a highlight for the police force of this sleepy town.
All that is about to change when powerful drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), escapes FBI custody while being transported to prison. And his route to Mexico leads right through Sommerton Junction. FBI Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) hardly credits a bunch of small town cops with the wherewithal to stop the drug lord and his band of heavily-armed cohorts. Still, when his own attempts at recapturing Cortez pathetically founder, it seems that only Owen stands between the escaped criminal and asylum in Mexico…
THE LAST STAND could virtually be a commercial for the US gun lobby. The absurd comment recently uttered by NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” seems to be the overriding keynote of the film – where even a loveable old granny shoulders a rifle to help the sheriff battle the Bad Guys. So in view of the horrific events that have taken so many innocent lives in the recent weeks and months, it is difficult to regard a movie like THE LAST STAND as pure entertainment rather than political propaganda.
Still, as director Kim Jee-Woon’s intent was the former as opposed to the latter, fans of the genre are best advised to just leave their brains at the door, rather than questioning the film’s morality or looking for a deeper message; for only then can they enjoy this well-made thriller with great action, a good bit of humor and some terrific, albeit illogical, shoot outs. Be it Cortez’ spectacular escape, the Old West duel of good vs. evil in the Main Street of the sleepy town, or the way Schwarzenegger flirts with his age – all of this makes THE LAST STAND an extremely entertaining representative of the genre. And if several scenes are well over the top, well, the movie doesn’t really take itself all too seriously.
If THE LAST STAND comes across as a classic 80s action movie, the action itself is never shopworn or dusty. The boundaries of logic are, indeed, continually stretched, but nevertheless the car chases, fire fights, and mano-a-mano duels are good entertainment and never dull, which somewhat compensates for the stereotyped characters and the ultra-simplistic dialogue – this despite the fact that at least three writers were involved in penning the screenplay!
So, once again, if check your brain in at the ticket counter and pick it up after the closing credits, and you don’t expect any life-changing philosophy, you will get your money’s worth: good action cinema with an Arnold Schwarzenegger who is still a master of his craft.
THE LAST STAND (USA 2012): Running time: 107 mins; Distributor/Release dates: Lionsgate,18. January (US) / Twentieth Century Fox, 31. January (Germany); Director: Kim Jee-Woon; Writers: Jeffrey Nachmanoff Writer (screenplay/(story); George Nolfi (Rewrite); Lorenzo di Bonaventura (writing supervisor); Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander, Peter Stomare
For more info & trailer: www.laststand-film.de