Nostalgia trips are always welcome. The Last Stand certainly feels like one. It’s a movie in a long line of movies recently that have tried to recapture the glory days of an older action star or stars or revive properties that were once hugely popular, the sort of films that do their best to make their older audiences feel young again. Oftentimes, those missions have failed whether they felt too much like a cash grab or just not the genuine efforts they should have been. The Last Stand is different, though. It feels like exactly the kind of movie an action star like Arnold Schwarzenegger should make after a ten-year hiatus from leading film roles: lean, mean and with a hearty sense of humor.
Other than Schwarzenegger as Ray Owens of Somerton Junction, Arizona, the core cast includes Rodrigo Santoro as Frank Martinez, an alcoholic slowly trying to make things right, Jamie Alexander as Deputy Sarah Torrance, the girl in love with Santoro even though she struggles to openly admit it. It also features Luis Guzmán as Deputy Mike Figuerola, Forest Whitaker as FBI Agent John Bannister, and Eduardo Noriega as drug lord Gabriel Cortez, that all aforesaid characters are trying to capture, after Cortez escapes custody while being transported by the FBI.
The Last Stand might not be high art, but it is expertly made. Director Kim Jee-woon makes his American debut here and from the opening scene it's obvious the man is skilled. From his unique and inspired camera work to the smart way in which three layers of story are woven together to produce a tense and largely unpredictable viewing experience that distinguishes The Last Stand from your typical action film fare.
Indeed Schwarzenegger does look and act older, but his on screen presence and charisma has not diminished one degree. The Last Stand is the perfect vehicle for a triumphant return to the silver screen in a starring role.
Yes, the movie is exceedingly violent and graphic, but not disturbingly so. This is by no means violence celebration or gun porn like last year’s Killing Them Softly or The Expendables and its sequel. The main characters are genuinely good people looking to protect their quiet town from harm and every one of them we can readily care about and root for. Suffice to say, it’s a joint effort by all involved to make fun escapism, the kind you can't help feeling a bit charmed and more than satisfied by.