It’s been a full decade since Arnold Schwarzenegger was the centerpiece of an action film, but after a brief stint in politics he’s back in the saddle and ready to rip through bad guys with endless amounts of ammunition once more. The Last Stand is Schwarzenegger’s first film back, and it definitely gives him a lot to work with in terms of both action and acting ability – but the real question is, does he still have what it takes?
The answer, in short, is hell yes. Schwarzenegger is 66 years old and he’s still doing some great stuff here. Of course, he’s not in the pique physical condition he was in years ago; however, it works for him here. He looks older, he moves slower and he always feels his age, but it all works because that’s what the character is supposed to be.
Schwarzenneger stars as Ray Owens, the sheriff of Sommerton, a small town in Arizona that’s adjacent to the Mexican border. This is a town where everyone knows everyone else’s schedules and business, and where almost the entire population will up and leave on a road trip to support the local football team. That’s exactly what happens here, as everyone clears out leaving Sommerton feeling like a ghost town of sorts – and good thing too, because trouble has just arrived.
Running parallel to what’s happening in Sommerton is what’s happening in Las Vegas, and that is the FBI – led by Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) – transporting third generation cartel boss Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) to a new location. Not one to miss an opportunity, Cortez has an elaborate escape planned that goes off without a hitch. Now Cortez is on the run with an FBI agent as a hostage (Genesis Rodriguez) in a ZR1 Corvette, which is clocking speeds of almost 200mph as it heads towards the Mexican border.
Now this is a movie that requires you to remember that it’s just supposed to be a fun action movie. There’s lots of illogical and convenient stuff that happens, so if you’re bothered by things like, “So the bad guy never has to stop for gas?” or, “How does a Corvette crash into a SWAT Humvee, cause it to flip, and continue driving away unscathed?” then this movie isn’t for you.
Basically, the FBI has absolutely zero resources to get to the town of Sommerton before Cortez arrives there so it’s up to Owens and his ragtag crew of deputies to stop the drug lord before he escapes back into Mexico. Luckily, there’s a guy by the name of Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) in this town who’s a collector of all types of military artillery, so they’re well stocked when it comes to firearms. Like I said, this movie requires a suspension of disbelief to be enjoyed.
But if you allow for that, it is quite the enjoyable experience. Schwarzenegger delivers the goods, and comes off as human as he ever has – with just a smidgen of invulnerability to keep things fair. He’s got a few great comedic scenes, especially one that takes place in the diner nearing the latter half of the film. There are a few one-liners, and while most of them fall flat, it’s still fun to watch Schwarzenegger going against the odds once again.
On the supporting front, Arny’s deputies include actress Jaimie Alexander, actor Luis Guzman, Zach Gilford, and Rodrigo Santoro. Alexander fills the heroine role really well, and some may recognize her from the Marvel hit Thor, where she played Thor’s friend Sif. She’s got a great look to her, and the acting chops to back it up so here’s hoping we see more of her in the near future (aside from her role in the upcoming Thor: The Dark World). Guzman has some great comedic moments, and he and Schwarzenegger play well off one another. Knoxville is also fun to watch, and plays well off the rest of the cast as well.
On the villain front, Noriega does a solid job as Cortez, which definitely wouldn’t have been easy considering he spends almost the entire film inside a car. Usually a villain’s master plan doesn’t involve simply driving at high speeds, but it works well enough here. Peter Stormare (Armageddon) plays Cortez’s right hand man, and since he’s free to roam around outside of car, he gets to have a lot of fun terrorizing the town of Sommerton, and we get to enjoy watching him do it.
The Last Stand is director Kim Jee-woon’s US film debut, and it likely won’t be his last. He’s got a unique vision when it comes to bringing his action films to life, which is apparent to anyone who saw The Good, The Bad and The Weird. While The Last Stand film wasn’t a financial success, it’s still an entertaining story told through action and humour. It’s also quite gratuitous in terms of violence, though usually in a humorous manner, so it fits right into the tone of the film.
The Last Stand isn’t close to being one of Schwarzenegger’s top films, and while he’s a legend in the genre it’s still been 10 years since he starred in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and a lot has changed on the action front since then in terms of what audiences expect. That said, The Last Stand is a lot of fun if you allow it to be, and it’s the perfect film for Schwarzenegger to ease back into our collective consciousness and tell us that he’s back.
The video and audio transfer for the Blu-ray is incredibly well done. The visuals are sharp and vivid, and the contrast in colours and shades between the FBI story and what’s going on in Sommerton are very well done. The audio mixes also come through beautifully, with the dialogue, sound and score all rising to the occasion.
Not in My Town: Making of The Last Stand – This feature runs at just over 28 minutes in length and is pretty informative overall. There’s lots of interviews with cast and crew about what it’s like to work with Schwarzenegger, and how so many of the actors in the film grew up watching him and never thought they’d get the chance to work with him. We also get to hear from Schwarzenegger quite a bit about how he felt getting back into the swing of things, and doing a few stunts he thought he’d never do again after being in office.
Cornfield Chaos: Scene Breakdown – This is an 11 minute feature that basically goes through the climactic cornfield chase scene and how complicated it was to shoot. It’s an engrossing 11 minutes and definitely worth checking out to both fans and young filmmakers, as it really shows how complicated things can get and how precise things have to be before the camera even starts rolling to make sure they get the footage needed.
The Dinkum Firearm and Historic Weaponry Museum Tour – This feature is also 11 minutes in length and here we get to learn about how they designed the museum which stores all the firearms they use against the cartel.
Actor-cam Anarchy: With Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander – This feature is just over 10 minutes in length and cuts between Knoxville and Alexander, each of whom have cameras, as they walk around set interviewing various crew members and talking about what they’ll be doing that day.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – The deleted scenes here hit the eight-minute mark, and are quite boring overall. They were clearly cut to keep pacing moving, and the fact that they didn’t really add anything doesn’t help either. Same goes for the extended scenes, which rack up to 14 minutes in length.
For a film that didn’t perform well at all at the box office, The Last Stand was given quite a few juicy features on the extras front that will make fans happy. The overall transfer is beautiful, and the movie itself is a lot of fun if you throw logic out the window as soon as you hit play.
Lionsgate Presents The Last Stand. Directed by: Kim Jee-woon. Written by: Andrew Knauer Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Eduardo Dillard, Peter Stormare, Genesis Rodriguez. Running time: 107 minutes. Rating: R. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare, The Last Stand