This film is currently playing in theaters.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as a lead in this new actioner directed by the stylistic Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (The Good, The Bad, and the Weird). Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) is a sheriff in a small town, Sommerton Junction, in Arizona. His deputies include the veteran cop Mike (Luis Guzmán), the young Sarah (Jaimie Alexander), and rookie cop Jerry (Zach Gilford). When a dangerous fugitive / drug kingpin Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) and his army of dangerous gunmen decide to pass through the town (in a specially outfitted Corvette) to escape to Mexico, it is up to Sheriff Owens and his deputies to try to stop them. FBI agent Bannister (Forest Whitaker), meanwhile, is hot on Cortez's tail.
Overall, this is not a smart film, but I have to admit I found it rather entertaining in many parts. Well, the script is messy, the characters are silly, the dialog is generic, and characters do very silly things. I blame the script, certainly. Particularly, a good half-hour of the beginning is one cliche after another. Things pick up a bit when Sheriff Ray confront the baddies who are carrying assault rifles and bazookas.
Arnold Schwarzenegger looks pretty old now, but he's essentially playing himself, which makes him seem normal, and rather likeable. The script doesn't particularly give him a whole lot of clever lines, I admit. Forest Whitaker as Agent Bannister isn't particularly used to his full potential--he tries to do what he can with the script, but he comes off mostly frustrated and one dimensional. Johnny Knoxville is amusing as the gun-loving Lewis--he pretty much plays it off as much as he could as a silly, two-dimensional character.
It's been a long while since I've seen a fine array of good ol' fashioned gun battles and this film delivers. Plenty of bullets, blood, and detail. Kim Jee-Woon is a well-known stylistic genre director from South Korea who is known for this visual flair, such as his atmospheric gangster film A Bittersweet Life, the psychological horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, dark comedy The Quiet Family, a Spaghetti-Western The Good The Bad and the Weird, and the morbid revenge thriller I Saw The Devil. This being his first Hollywood film, his style is not always noticeable here, but there are good moments of clever camera shots, a complex crane shot that moves from an action scene at a rooftop to a character on the street, and some unusual, but fun, gunplay.
Much of the action scenes here could've been fairly standard fluff. But, this is mostly pretty good fluff. The gun battles are particularly energetic, starting from the second act. The first one third of the film is fairly standard. One of the my favorite scenes involved a strange cat and mouse car chase that takes place inside a corn field--it's just something you just don't see in any film. It's unusual, odd, and rather original. Even the hand-to-hand fight scene is just a little more fun than usual.
Ultimately, this is B-movie comic-book style popcorn fluff. Like The Rundown or Snakes on a Plane, there are just enough odd, yet rather novel, elements that make the film more amusing than it could've been. I mean, I prefer this one over the usual Jason Statham flicks. Is Arnold back? I mean really back? Perhaps not in the same way, but he is amusing in this one. The action is rough, bloody, energetic, and fun.
My Rating: ** 1/2 out of **** stars