The Last Stand: “Don’t try to see death coming. You won’t.”
“He’s back!” cried the publicity, as Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to the big-screen for his first major film lead since the flop which no-one went to see, Collateral Damage, after it was inadvertently delayed when due for release in late 2001, but was put on the back burner for a few months after the events of 9/11 because the premise involves his family being killed in a terrorist act that involves an explosion… Whoops! (and I’m sure the original poster showed him looking out the corner of his eye at a tall building which had something flying into it, but I can’t find that poster now)
So, after coming back to the fore with a gun-toting scene or three in The Expendables 2 (let’s forget the brief cameo in the prequel where he barely bothered to show his face), what he needed was a film to lead where he’d be able to crack wise while blasting the bad guys into next week. Alas, this film isn’t really it.
He plays Sheriff Ray Owens, an old cop content to live in sleepy Somerton Junction, where the biggest problem to deal with is the fact that farmer Harry Dean Stanton hasn’t delivered that day’s milk to the local diner. However, things are about to change when America’s most wanted drug kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) is taking a diversion through his location in his 200mph supercharged motherfucker of a car with a view to escaping across the border into Mexico.
The hype machine swung into place for this movie big-time with an action-movie-by-numbers as we learn Ray chose the life of a cop that makes Heartbeat look action-packed because of something that happened back in Los Angeles, an event I can’t even remember because it was that uninteresting, but it’s still a place that draws his deputy, Jerry (Zach Gilford), who longs for excitement and asks for Ray’s help to get him a job there.
Anyway, back to the plot and what you have here is 107 minutes that passes by reasonably fine, with a few one-liners here and there, but bear in mind that there’s absolutely nothing you don’t expect and, basically, it’s *exactly* what you *would* expect from an Arnie film many years after his best.
On the plus side, there’s some engaging use of the full widescreen frame, from director (Jee-woon Kim), whose films I’ve never seen before, plus amusingly devilish performances from Eduardo Noriega as the main baddie and the ever-reliable Peter Stormare as secondary baddie Burrell. There’s a few laughs provided by cop colleague Luis Guzmán (as Mike “Figgy” Figuerola) and Johnny Knoxville as Lewis Dinkum, who’s not in it as much as the poster would appear to suggest, but whose character primarily exists to provide the weaponry for Arnie and co. with which to dispense of the enemy.
The cast is rounded out with female cop Sarah (Jaimie Alexander), her ex-boyfriend Sam (Mathew Greer) who we first see locked up in their cell for some reason I can’t remember and Forest Whitaker phoning it in as Agent John Bannister, supposedly hot on the trail of Cortez, but like other characters in this film, he just disappears off screen for large portions of time and you never miss the fact that he’s gone.
So, overall, The Last Stand makes for a passable piece of entertainment – and with some decent blood-spurting violence, something often lacking in an era dominated by child-friendly 12A movies – albeit far from the first thing you must see at the cinema. However, I do have to question why, when Cortez wants to get across the border to Mexico, how come the link between Somerton Junction and Mexico is an open, unattended bridge? I’ve never been to the Mexican border, but all films I’ve seen prior to this show it as a fortified fence that spans a fair distance, often patrolled by police.
Running time: 107 minutes
Released: January 25th 2013
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (D-Cinema)
Director: Jee-woon Kim
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Screenplay: Andrew Knauer, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and George Nolfi
Ray Owens: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Agent John Bannister: Forest Whitaker
Burrell: Peter Stormare
Gabriel Cortez: Eduardo Noriega
Lewis Dinkum: Johnny Knoxville
Sarah Torrance: Jaimie Alexander
Jerry Bailey: Zach Gilford
Sam: Mathew Greer
Mike “Figgy” Figuerola: Luis Guzmán
Irv: Richard Dillard
Christie: Christiana Leucas
Agent Ellen Richards: Genesis Rodriguez
Farmer: Harry Dean Stanton
Mayor: Titos Menchaca
Henry: Sonny Landham
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.