4.8 out of 10
‘The Last Stand’ is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to a leading role after about a decade. Since he is A) pretty rusty, B) getting pretty old, and C) never was much of an actor in the first place it is safe to not expect much. And you would be right to do so. Director Jee-woon Kim gives us a film that really belongs in the straight to video category and barely manages to save a poor effort there with a fun second half. The pros definitely don’t outweigh the cons in this film with a tired plot and poor execution all around.
The Last Stand is forgettable in every way and if you go see this in the theater you will forget about everything except all the money you wasted.
Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.
The Last Stand opens in Baltimore on January 18, 2012.
Ahnuld is back.
A few of the characters have some fun dialogue and both Luis Guzmán as one of the deputies and Johnny Knoxville as the crazy guy provide a lot of the comedic relief that saves the second half of this film.
The style of the film and a lot of the action reminds one of the good Quentin Tarantino scenes. They have a nice blend of over-the-top action and gore with some really funny moments. It almost does not fit with the rest of the film, but it is also the main redeeming quality.
Let’s start with the plot. How tired is that? A total badass cop moves to a sleepy desert town to retire in peace because he’s seen too much blood. A new bad guy comes to town and he’s the only one who can stop him.
………………..Sorry, fell asleep there for a second.
The acting is bad – really bad. And this is after I went in with low expectations after seeing the trailer. I knew what kind of film this was going to be and was still surprised at how poor the acting was. Even the FBI agents, including Forest Whitaker, were lousy. It is as if they couldn’t decide if they wanted to be authentic or cheesy and fell somewhere in between. It looked like a bunch of high school kids with no acting ability making a film with a bunch of cops in it. Where were the technical advisors when you needed them?
The first half of The Last Stand is almost unbearable. I am glad that I stayed through to the end, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about leaving. Setting up the sleepy little town and the bumbling deputies felt like torture, like it would never end. Setting up the FBI agents and the bad guy was like watching students learn how to act in a theater class. Clearly there needs to be a story and you cannot just jump right into a shootout, but for Arnold’s sake, just get on with it.
The villain Gabriel Cortez, played by Eduardo Noriega, is beyond lame. He belongs in the next Fast and Furious film instead of an action shooter. Sorry Noriega, they have already made the 6th ‘F&F’, you’ll have to wait for number 7. Cortez is not intimidating and does not come off as the leader of a huge criminal enterprise. The always great Peter Stormare plays Burrell, another bad guy, and is in the film a lot more than Cortez. If the writers could have figured a way to have Burrell throw down with the sheriff and leave Cortez out of the film completely, it would have worked much better. Cortez was more of a vehicle to have Burrell in the film, but the movie made Cortez the focus.
The Bottom Line
This is a rainy day rental. The second half of The Last Stand will make you laugh, smirk and maybe even cringe a little. But that is for only about 15 minutes in a 90-minute film that has nothing else to offer. It may be nice to see Arnold in a leading role again, but this film definitely did not belong in theaters. With anyone else in the leading role this one surely would have been straight to video. Save your money. If you love Arnold or don’t mind waiting 60 minutes to get to the good part then give this a try when it releases on video. Otherwise, go see Gangster Squad.