There’s nothing especially awesome here to scream about, but for what it’s worth, The Last Stand carries on a mild amount of amusement for undemanding Schwarzenegger fans.
People that watch Arnold Schwarzenegger movies probably don’t bother to read movie reviews. That said, I’ve watched several films of Arnold’s, and here I am reading and writing reviews all the time. With that in mind, I’ll imagine that Arnold’s fans are the good folks reading this review, and I’ll let them know how this film compares to his others.
First, note that Arnold is getting up in years, and The Last Stand will continuously remind you of it. He’s a 65 year-old body builder, so where he doesn’t look fit he looks flabby. When he’s not squashing thugs like bugs, he’s aching because his joints are sore.
Yeah, this is what we are in for with the rest of Arnold’s career. So break out the prune juice and recline in grandpa’s La-Z-Boy, because Arnold is back.
Something about a Small Town and a Super Fast Car
Sheriff Ray Owens (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction, Arizona. Sommerton is his retreat from his LAPD post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with failure and defeat after his police team was decimated.
One night, international drug lord Gabriel Cortez (played by Eduardo Noriega) makes a daring escape from FBI custody in Las Vegas. Blah, blah blah…
… Then Owens confronts the very problems of his past that he meant to escape by moving to Sommerton. While Cortez has the unbeatable Corvette and an army of thugs with a diabolical plot for his every move, Sheriff Owens only has the five meager and inexperienced deputies of his to wage war. It seems likely that hell is going to rain down on Sommerton and the outlaw, Gabriel Cortez, will escape into Mexico — no matter the cost.
Fun & Simple
The film was more-or-less entertaining, in an all-American-action-car-chase-heavy-movie sort of way.
Arnold is not annoying or corny like I expected. His acting performance was mellow, and true to the small town western sheriff of Mayberry kind of guy he plays. When he wasn’t overcoming the challenges of an elderly man on his day off, he’s whooping the *** of the arrogant jerks that want to cross his town. His is a simple character for a simple action story.
The rest of the setting, cast, action, and dialogue had that going for them too. It is all so simple and easy to digest. You can get caught up in the hype of the moment and overlook many of the story’s shortcomings while enjoying a little relief from the common heady dialogue that accompanies many action films. Let’s take Broken City, for example, which is in movie theaters at the same time as The Last Stand. I easily followed the narrative of Arnold’s movie, while Mark Wahlberg’s was confusing and overly ambitious at every turn. Broken City’s dialogue makes Last Stand’s look like a walk in the park, and that’s a good thing for a straightforward story.
The Same-old-same-old and Uninspired
As you should expect with an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Stand is a poorly acted, over-the-top, lazily written movie. When good guys aren’t making missteps to keep in line with an ambitious plot to muster a seemingly formidable villain, they are attempting to make small talk and corny jokes work that seem to originate during the first drafting of the screenplay.
The soundtrack is non-existent, the villain is one-dimensional, the FBI is misrepresented, the dialogue is always uninspired… It’s a simple Schwarzenegger film for a modest amount of amusement.
Perhaps the one flaw that stands out to me that’s not usually the case with a Schwarzenegger film is that Last Stand drags out too long. I noticed that many scenes were lengthy, like the editor was just plain lazy about trimming the fat from the edges. Oh well, who cares, right? It’s purposefully designed to be a B-/C+ movie.
There’s another general annoyance I have with action films of Arnold’s ilk. There are three young, gorgeous women in key roles of the film: one is deputy, another is an FBI agent, and the other a server at the folksy Sommerton diner. I guess it’s possible that one story should have three supermodel women, but these three all came from the same mold, as though they were cast because they all met the same criteria (twenty-something years of age, athletic, trim, sexy in a flirtatious way, symmetrical facial features, long dark hair, tan…) and look like sisters. The deputy and FBI agent are straight out of second rate cop TV shows, unrealistically the equals of the buff thugs with machine guns that attack them at every turn. Conveniently, the women are never faced with real opposition in hand-to-hand combat — or worse.
The Bottom Line
If you are an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, then this is a must-see. If you are bored and you have nothing else to watch, then you might be entertained by The Last Stand. If you are curious about what Arnold’s return to cinema looks like after his run as governor of California (as I was), then you will want to see this film.
But if you can’t imagine any particular reason why you would watch a Schwarzenegger movie, then I’m not going to give you one this time around. Go watch Gangster Squad instead. If you already have seen Gangster Squad, then stay home and watch Homeland re-runs.