If you think back to the biggest names in action of the 1980s it is impossible not to think of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. One was Conan, The Terminator, and a host of other 80's action heroes. The other was the one man army known as Rambo. Now, both have movies out in the box office heralding their return to solo action movie star status. Both appeared in the successful The Expendables movies and now it's time to see how they match up against each other in their solo action efforts.
First to come out of the gate is Arnold Schwarzenegger with his new film The Last Stand. This is Schwarzenegger's first major starring action role in a long time as he has been living a life in politics instead of film. Now he is back at an older age to get in on the action once again. How does he fare?
The Last Stand is mostly a fun movie, but it is also pretty forgettable. Schwarzenegger definitely doesn't do damage like he did back in his prime when making movies like Commando. He is getting old. He even admits so himself in the film. However, Schwarzenegger still has quite a presence on screen. He knows how to inject humor into situations just like he always did. Given the right one liners he could really have some fun in an action movie. Unfortunately, the one liners in this aren't very good or just plain aren't there at all.
The other problem with The Last Stand is that the other cast members sometimes take away from what we really want to see in the movie which is Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Too much time is spent on the villain who is completely one dimensional and isn't worthy of the screen time he is given. Ditto goes for the unit of I forget what who are tracking him down and led by Forrest Whittaker's character who I also forget the name of. In fact, nobody's name in this movie is memorable and the plot is just as forgettable. Basically, a criminal is on the run and is headed for the town in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is sheriff.
All that said, there is some fun action in this movie and some light humor that put a smile on my face. It is an enjoyable film, but a forgettable one and nowhere near the caliber of not only the classic Schwarzenegger films, but of the recent The Expendables and The Expendables 2.
Stallone, on the other hand, has a new movie out called Bullet to the Head. The benefit of this movie over The Last Stand is that its main focus is always on the man we want to see the most: Sylvester Stallone. The movie doesn't follow around the villains nor supporting cast members, but sticks with the actor we really want to see. It also gives him lines that really match the actor's style. The one liners in The Last Stand were totally predictable and fell a little flat. The one liners in Bullet to the Head are funny and while maybe not totally unpredictable they at least can catch you off guard sometimes for a good laugh.
Bonus points go to Bullet to the Head for heralding the return of director Walter Hill who made classics of the 80s like 48 Hours and Streets of Fire as well as classics of the 70s like The Warriors and The Driver. This movie has more style than The Last Stand right from the first frame. No doubt, this is owed to the director of many action classics of the past.
The plot in Bullet to the Head is just a small amount more memorable than the plot in The Last Stand. The character's names in this film also escape me as do the names of the characters in The Last Stand. However, the character traits in this one have stayed in my memory more than those of the characters in The Last Stand. I don't remember if Schwarzenegger's character had any family or why not if he didn't. I do remember Stallone's characters daughter, his hatred for cops, and his criminal ways.
When it really comes down to it. Neither The Last Stand nor Bullet to the Head come close to the classics of each respective star's career. However, Bullet to the Head definitely comes closest with a pretty brisk pace and fun dialogue throughout. In this box office beatdown Arnold Schwarzenegger has just been knocked out.