If you do see this movie, listen to this right afterwards and let the awesomeness flow over you like a red, white and blue tide.
Let’s face facts. The Last Stand isn’t going to win any awards, and it isn’t trying to. Sure, the story is simple bordering on cliche. Sure, the acting overall is sub-par (which could have been achieved by including Johnny Knoxville on the roster by simple laws of averages). Sure, it plays out like the ultimate fantasy of every paranoid, gun-hoarding 2nd amendment literalist, which isn’t exactly well timed with the current environment surrounding firearms in this country. Between the fact that Arnold Schwartzenegger hasn’t starred in a movie in 10 years and the small matter that director Jee-woon Kim may produced some highly regarded Korean Language films (The Good, The Bad and the Weird, I Saw the Devil) but has never worked with American actors before, the project could have been a complete disaster. While it’s still no Die Hard, The Last Stand proves that Kim has the presence of mind to know exactly what his audience wants and the ability to deliver it to them at every turn.
“The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.”
In other words, the plot simply exists to give some reason for Arnold to kill a bunch of dudes without the audience feeling bad for them.
As surprising as it is, Arnold has still got it. His character, Sheriff Ray Owens, isn’t given much development beyond that of your standard aging action hero, but Schwartzenegger plays his with the sort of self-aware confidence of someone who knows the drill by now. It certainly helps that he’s given some incredibly funny lines to back that confidence up, including one on immigration near the end of the film that largely deflates a lot of the xenophobic potential the concept could have had. All in all, I really do look forward to seeing Arnold continue his return to the industry after his brief experimentation with politics (and housekeepers). Terminator 5 might not be the worst thing in the world after all.
Surrounding Owens, we have not one, but TWO sources of comic relief in Deputy Figuerola (Luis Guzman, graduate of Greendale Community College) and the eccentric arms-hoarder Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville, graduate of nothing in particular). Guzman and Knoxville are character actors on their best days, but their dopey charm is well used throughout the movie and does a lot to support the fun tone that works so well in the film’s favor. I did enjoy the fact that Dinkum named his guns, too; I myself have a volvo named Daenerys, a guitar named Ariadne, an HK G3 named Gertrude and a Mosin Nagant named Natasha.
On of the movie’s weakest points, surprisingly, is veteran actor Forrest Whittaker as FBI agent Bannister. He doesn’t fit in with the movie’s overall tone and fails to make any waves on the serious end of things either. It’s as if they couldn’t decide to make him the douchey FBI guy or the honest cop on the outside a la Sergeant Powell in Die Hard, so they just decided to make him both. Cartel leader and bad guy extraordinaire Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) gets to drive a sweet-ass corvette, but other than that isn’t anything special. Also, Peter Stormare is present because… he looks like a bad guy I guess. He kept switching accents throughout the entire movie, and it couldn’t help but feel like the Big Lebowski veteran was phoning it in a bit.
Nope, not touching this one. I know that some people might specifically not enjoy the film for this reason, seeing as it represents a way that people use to justify excessive access to heavy weaponry for civilian use, but it simply didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie as an above-average action flick.
The Verdict: 7.5/10 Superior
+ Schwartzenegger is finally “Back”
+ Guzman and Knoxville get some great comic relief in
+ The tone is somewhat inconsistent but ends up on the fun side more often than not.
- The characters are flat, the acting is so so, blah blah blah it’s a freaking action movie
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Paragraph Film Reviews: 7.5/10
The Code is Zeek: 3.5/5
Dan the Man Movie Reviews: 6.5/10
The Focused Filmographer: 3.0/5
The Daily Rich: [Positive]
Average: 7.1/10 – Good