ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER FOREST WHITAKER LUIS GUZMAN JOHNNY KNOXVILLE
THE LAST STAND
On the outside this might look like a cheesy, incompetent, small town action movie where the tough as nails Sheriff gets the bad guy after some ridiculous car chases and explosions. However, what you’re actually seeing is a “testing-the-waters” film to see if American audiences are ready to once again accept The Schwarzenegger. Not even making back half its budget at the box office just might prove that the once popular Austrian action star and former California Governor no longer has a following. The Last Stand, directed by Korean filmmaker Jee-woon Kim, is a little too grassroots in its delivery.
Special FBI agent John Bannister has a big problem: his team just lost one of the deadliest drug cartel leaders, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who is now racing toward a tiny border town in Arizona. Cortez’s gang has been building a bridge that he plans to drive over while they protect him every step of the way. The FBI, National Guard, and even the SWAT team are too slow or outcmaneuvered up by the Cortez gang. . . their only hope lies with the Sheriff (Schwarzenegger) of the old town and his three deputies.
If the conversation Ray the Sheriff has with Jerry (Zach Gilford) doesn’t turn you off (because it’s the exact conversation Al Pacino has with Hilary Swank in Insomnia), then the fact that the cops in the film don’t use the roll-out spikes on the highway to slow down the Corvette going 197 mph might. The Last Stand is filled with “yeah, right” and “c’mon” moments, separated by lines like “You make us immigrants look bad” or “Psychopath in a Batmobile”. Poking fun at Schwarzenegger’s age while still knocking out the bad guys is also included. More ridiculous behavior is added by Knoxville, who, like Schwarzenegger, returns to that one and only character he knows how to play.
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker’s presence in this film is the real low point, especially with the hammed up character they have him playing, fretting in an office most of the time. As stupid as this movie is, it does manage to be entertaining in much the same way as those America’s Funniest Home Videos are--you just can’t help but look. Guzman is one of the movie’s most entertaining characters, running through the street as a really angry Mexican. Even ole’ Harry Dean Stanton (The Green Mile) pops up to play a farmer with a shotgun.
Final Thought – The film embraces the fact that it’s really ridiculous.
By: Dustin Chase
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
This fast-paced cops and robbers thriller by Director Jee-Woon Kim is made for Arnold Schwarzenegger (Sheriff Owens) to show his stuff one more time against lawbreakers. And he is charismatic as always in his amazing feats of forward calculations, sharp shooting, and sheer brawn. There is also room for him to show his tender side and a bit of goofiness, and not take himself too seriously. Altogether, the quintessential aging hero.
The story centers around a Mexican escapee (Noriega) from a Federal prison who has a car that travels over 200 mph, and is an experienced race driver. He has made millions from his drug deals, and is handsome and heartless to boot, so he is perfect as the evil drug lord who needs to be stopped. Sheriff Owens has retreated to a small town as sheriff after a painful experience, and is reluctant to get involved. However, when he realizes that the people of his town, for whom he feels a keen sense of responsibility, are in danger, he steps up to the challenge.
There is a constant stream of fierce gun battles throughout the film, but there are comical scenes as well. For instance, the small band protecting the town consists of the sheriff, his loyal sidekick (Guzman)—a Sancho Panza character—a man in jail for drunkenness who is deputized because he’s a sharp shooter, a slightly crazed man who collects—and names—every gadget-like weapon he can find, and so on. They come up with ingenious ways to block the street, and use a huge yellow school bus to great effect and comic relief. A race through the cornfields is another entertaining segment.
This is a film that will be enjoyable—a fun ride—for those who like these types of shoot-‘em-up films. I had to wonder as I was watching it and saw the huge array of all kinds of guns being brought out whether it was at least partially supported by the gun lobby. When practically every character can produce a gun when needed, and especially when an old woman sitting in a rocking chair instantly produces—and uses—a shotgun against a trespasser, I was pretty sure that at least one point of the film is to advocate for “a gun in every home.”
By Donna R. Copeland