The Last Stand is the first movie that features Arnold Schwarzenegger in a lead role since his time in politics. As such, I was incredibly excited for this movie. It ushers in an era of post-Schwarzenegger Schwarzenegger films that will undoubtedly consist of sequels - I'm still holding out for a King Conan film - and movies that are referential to his previous works.
The Last Stand is about a small town on the border with Mexico and its police chief Ray Owens. I almost didn't recognize Owens as Schwarzenegger, but that was mostly because the character wasn't named John like most of Arnold's characters. (John Matrix is a personal favorite of mine.) The town is populated by a lot of B- and C-list actors that many will recognize like Luiz Guzman, Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif in Thor), Johnny Knoxville, and Rodrigo Santoro (Paolo on LOST).
Beyond the delightful cast, I have nothing particularly good to say about this movie. It was filled with awkward moment after awkward moment, and not the kind championed by the Office or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It was the kind of awkwardness that comes from shoddy writing, directing and acting. The pace of the film was all kinds of bad. The first half of the film did not even feel like it was building toward anything. It just felt like some stuff was happening, and while you knew it would be connected, it was really insignificant. In the second half of the film, there is just action. There is no sense of importance, and again, no build - just action and then later conclusion. The characters are one-dimensional and expendable, especially the woman hostage who was somehow important to the plans of both the villains and the authority in pursuit.
In a post-Schwarzenegger Schwarzenegger world, you expect Schwarzenegger movies to be filled with cheesy lines and improbably/impossible action sequences. Unfortunately, there weren't enough ridiculous puns or camp to make up for this film's lack of substance. One also expects some sort of hidden science fiction reference, like cloning or a rail gun. Instead, The Last Stand delivers a really really fast car and hopes that it is enough to keep you interested.
The Last Stand was a horrible letdown, both for viewers who like good movies and viewers who simply like movies because Arnold is in them. With a little bit of art it could have been either good or bad enough that it was funny and enjoyable. As for me, I actually had a good time watching this movie, but my enjoyment relied on one thing that no other movie will supply me with this year: the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is back.