By Will Ashton | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Last Stand | Directed by Kim Jee-Woon | Rated R
Much like John Wayne before him, what Schwarzenegger lacks in, well, real talent he makes up in sheer presence, comedic timing, and action. Put simply, he’s the ideal action hero: tall, strong, funny, and just badass.
Schwarzenegger’s on-screen presence has notably been missing the past couple years, as he was being the governor of a little state called California. But now, he’s back. After cameo-ing in The Expendables and moving up to a supporting role in last year’s The Expendables 2, he is, once again, the lead in his own action movie with The Last Stand.
How does he return to the big-screen fair, though? Pretty good, I must say.
The film follows Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger), protector of the small town of Sommerton Junction, just outside of Las Vegas. He enjoys the quiet life, but his pleasures begin to go away when Gabriel Cortez, the most notorious drug king pin in the hemisphere, heads toward their town to cause severe damage. Only Owens and his gang of misfit deputies can prevent Cortez from inflicting real damage to his community.
The Last Stand is pure junk food, and I mean that in a good way. After course meals like Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln, it’s nice to have a little desert. It’s undeniably stupid, but it’s also fun.
Having not headlined a film since Terminator 3, Schwarzenegger’s return to the screen comes across a little shaky at first. But once things get heated and he returns to what he does best, shooting guns and sporting one-liners, he starts to gain his sea legs again.
In his American filmmaking debut, director Kim Jee-Woon packs in a good bit of punch. While not nearly as good as his last film, I Saw the Devil, Jee-Woon’s direction constantly remains competent and focused. Some scenes lack the visual flair of others, but overall his talent didn’t get stuck overseas. The plot is dollar bin material at best, so his talent behind the camera is what really brings in the film’s fun and charisma.
But the movie’s charisma doesn’t solely lie within him. A supporting performance by the always-capable Luis Guzman brings some seasoning, and even Johnny Knoxville isn’t terrible in this. Unfortunately, their dialogue is not the greatest, and even Guzman can’t help some of these lines from falling flat.
But, at the same time, the movie’s moderately self-aware sense of humor-that it knows not to take itself too seriously and to just have fun with the material-really helps keep things light and entertaining throughout.
Best of all, the movie is aware of Schwarzenegger’s age; they don’t try to make him seem like a superhero (I’m looking at you, new Die Hard movies) nor do they spend too much time making old jokes or focusing on his age. It’s not Unforgiven, but it works well enough.
Overall, this return to form for Schwarzenegger fairs more towards Commando than The Terminator. It’s goofy and stupid, but it’s also fun, enjoyable, and pretty well-made. The film plays well enough as Schwarzenegger’s return, and to Jee-Woon’s welcome, to American cinemas.