Opening this weekend are the action films Broken City and The Last Stand. The first film stars Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, the second Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville. Let’s start with the Wahlberg/Crowe action drama, from the film‘s official synopsis:
Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) has a promising career as a New York City cop until the night he is involved in a controversial shooting. Stripped of his badge, but kept out of jail by New York's popular Mayor (Russell Crowe), he re-makes himself as a private investigator. Times are tough, and when the mayor offers Billy $50,000 to investigate the First Lady's (Catherine Zeta Jones) extra-marital activities, it seems like a straight forward payday. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the Mayor is not at all what he seems, and for Billy to achieve redemption he will have to risk everything -- possibly even his freedom.
From The Last Stand’s official synopsis:
After leaving his LAPD narcotics post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with remorse and regret, Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) moved out of Los Angeles and settled into a life fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Summerton Junction. But that peaceful existence is shattered when Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the western hemisphere, makes a deadly yet spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy. With the help of a fierce band of lawless mercenaries led by the icy Burrell (Peter Stormare), Cortez begins racing towards the US-Mexico border at 250 mph in a specially-outfitted Corvette ZR1 with a hostage in tow. Cortez’ path: straight through Summerton Junction where the whole of the U.S. law enforcement, including Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) will have their final opportunity to intercept him before the violent fugitive slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately rallies his team and takes the matter into his own hands, setting the stage for a classic showdown.
Now I grouped these two films together for a few reasons. One, they are both January action films. By that I mean films that probably aren’t big enough to warrant a Summer blockbuster release (even with the big named stars in them). Two, both are flawed films that we’ve kinda seen before. And finally three, I actually liked both despite my first two reasons.
Broken City is more a political type drama where as The Last Stand is a classic Arnold action flick. Because it’s more political there’s more of a storyline and some of it just didn’t work for me. Broken City has a good twist in it, but tries to be a bit too creative and gets lost a bit trying to outwit itself. That being said, I really liked Russell Crowe as the mayor though. I would love to see Crowe now in a straight up political drama written by the likes of Aaron Sorkin. There’s some errors/flaws (a disappearing liquor bottle on a mantle for one), but none of that stopped me from simply enjoying the film. I like Wahlberg as an actor. I like Crowe as an actor and like Catherine Zeta-Jones too so if you’re a fan of them, check it out. The script isn’t anything overly original and the corrupted cops/politicians angle isn’t exactly new either, but there’s too much talent for this to be bad.
As for The Last Stand, what more is there to say than Arnold Schwarzenegger is back? Ok you want more. There’s a crazy fast car, Johnny Knoxville with crazy guns and the beautiful Genesis Rodriguez. That’s good enough for me. Sure the plot might seem preposterous and the one bad guy uses an antique revolver and NEVER reloads, but come on man, Arnold fights a guy on a bridge. There’s cheesy one liners, a couple of hot women (Thor’s Jaimie Alexander is also in it), a pretty good car chase scene and Schwarzenegger. If you like Schwarzenegger, just go see it, you know you want to.
Both films will probably battle each other at the box office this weekend which means a film like Mama might end up beating them both. Both have built in fan bases and should do well. I expect The Last Stand to draw in a lot of fans curious to see if Arnold still has “it”. Neither are anything fresh or genre changing, but they don’t need to be either.
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