October 4, 2022

The most fun I’ve had at the movies in the last couple months is Django Unchained, but coming in a close second is definitely The Last Stand. Even my girlfriend, who came along with me reluctantly, was on the edge of her seat for the film’s entire second half. It’s not revolutionary or mind-blowing, but the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the silver screen in a lead role satisfies and excites with beautifully choreographed action by Korean director Jee-woon Kim.

Written by Matt

The most fun I’ve had at the movies in the last couple months is Django Unchained, but coming in a close second is definitely The Last Stand. Even my girlfriend, who came along with me reluctantly, was on the edge of her seat for the film’s entire second half. It’s not revolutionary or mind-blowing, but the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the silver screen in a lead role satisfies and excites with beautifully choreographed action by Korean director Jee-woon Kim.

They should have some sort of area in which to leave your brain before entering The Last Stand, because you certainly won’t need it. The plot is as ludicrous as Arnold’s political career seemed several years back. Schwarzenegger plays a small-town Sheriff who finds out his Arizona border town is about to be used as a make-shift border crossing for an escaped Mexican drug cartel leader piloting a corvette on steroids. Schwarzenegger’s character has some past beef with the cartels, so he decides to gather up a gang of misfit deputies and defend his town at all costs. The story only serves as an excuse to watch Schwarzenegger do what he does best: kicking ass. Setting up the plot takes up the generally slow first half of The Last Stand, but once Arnold and his buddies break out the weaponry (provided by Johnny Knoxville’s character, in his first role I’ve seen in a long time where he isn’t hit with anything in the testicles), the movie truly starts.

Led by the direction of Jee-woon Kim, in his English-language film debut, the second half of The Last Stand injects energy, life and manic action into the film just when it needs it most. For many, Schwarzenegger’s mere presence merits a ticket purchase, but I’m nowhere close to Schwarzenegger’s biggest fan, so I needed a little more to enjoy this picture as much as I did. As soon as the fighting, chasing and shooting started, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face or the sweat from my palms. Watching the bullets flying, the cars flipping and the explosions bursting is worth the price of admission for this film.

That being said, The Last Stand is at its best when the actors aren’t talking. While there are some funny bits of slapstick scattered throughout the film, and some classic  Schwarzenegger one-liners, the movie gets bogged down in its own story and less-than-stellar performances when there’s no real action to watch. At times, I found myself cringing at the amount of cheese The Last Stand attempts to feed us. Many of the scenes are ripe with cliched dialogue and campy acting by many of the film’s supporting cast (Jaimie Alexander and  Rodrigo Santoro for example). Schwarzenegger plays a typical role reminiscent the Arnie characters of the 1990s, but he’s not given much to work with, which prevents me from thinking of him as anything other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder, actor and former governor, instead of small town sheriff Ray Owens.

The Last Stand’s cinematography is another area that shines during the action sequences and falters the rest of the movie. What is bland and typical in the first chunk of the film turns spectacular and lively in the latter. Set pieces and violence are handled particularly well during the film’s most hectic moments. This all comes together to make for some very memorable and interesting shots. Schwarzenegger looks as cool as ever while holding a gun in this one.

Like I said, it’s absolutely necessary to leave your brain at home for The Last Stand. The story is pretty mindless on its own, but certain moments throughout the film may interrupt your suspension of disbelief. I found far too often characters would be able to get from one location to another by what can only be explained as magic. There’s one example that’s particularly noticeable, for me to explain it here would be a bit of a spoiler, however, but you’ll know what it is when you see it.

Overall, Schwarzenegger’s return to Hollywood is welcomed with open arms and an empty head. If you’re looking for a break from all the meaty Oscar nominated films in theatres this time of year, I couldn’t recommend anything more than The Last Stand. However, don’t expect anything too revolutionary. What The Last Stand lacks in thought-provoking themes it makes up for in fast-paced action sprinkled with some satisfying humour. Grab a couple buddies and check this one out, I promise you’ll have a good time.