The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.
The plot of The Last Stand is hardly involved: drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noreiga) has been busted out of federal custody in Las Vegas and is now driving a souped up Corvette at high speed to the U.S.-Mexico border, where he plans to cross within a few miles of the town of Sommerton, assisted by hired thug Burrell (Peter Stormare). However, what Cortez doesn't know is that Sommerton's sheriff is former L.A. drug task force officer Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) who fled the big city for the sleepy environs of Sommerton after some particularly nasty experiences in L.A. With his deputies Mike Figuerola (Luis Guzman), Sarah Torrence (Jaimie Alexander), Jerry Bailey (Zach Gilford), local gun collector Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) and former soldier Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) to assist, Ray is determined to stop Cortez from reaching Mexico, even as federal agent John Bannister (Forest Whittaker) tries to disuade him from taking on Cortez from afar.
The Last Stand isn't really going to tax anyone's brain power throughout it's running time. It is a straightforward affair, there aren't much in the way of any twists and turns to the narrative, no serious moral or ethical quandaries (unless you consider the age old movie battle of good vs evil in about as uncomplicated a form as it gets) and just enough character development for you to get an inkling as to who the players are and a little of their background. The Last Stand isn't setting it's sights high, but frankly, that's not a bad thing. Like so many B-movies of old, The Last Stand knows what it is and doesn't ascribe to be much else.
The Last Stand has more than a few well-shot and edited action sequences, from the villain's escape from custody near the opening of the film, to the eventual battle of good guys against bad guys as the film winds down, The Last Stand delivers the action film goods. This is nothing revolutionary, but it is assembled into a slick, engaging package that keeps the pace moving along briskly without resorting to the over-edited, shaky cam action messes we have been exposed to in recent years. Korean director Jee-woon Kim knows how to put his action set-pieces together to keep you involved.
The Last Stand has some of the typical low-key comedy that was often the stable of Schwarzenegger's earlier films. There are a few nice one- liners here and there for him to chew on, and it's obvious that Knoxville has been retained to bring some levity to the proceedings. While The Last Stand has it's serious moments, one of the things that makes it enjoyable to watch is the lighter touch the film has. Yes, it hits many of the staples of this kind of film, the underdog heroes banding together to fight off the bad guy, complete with a montage sequence showing them readying for battle, but it still proves to be like a cinematic warm blanket: comfortable enough for you to enjoy the familiarity.
The Last Stand also recognizes that Schwarzenegger is a little older than your typical action film star and mines some decent moments here and there. Several scenes relate the typical "getting old" jokes you expect from this type of material, so the filmmakers and Schwarzenegger are approaching that aspect of the film dead on, while still providing what we expect from an action film. At time credulity is strained that the average man in his mid 60s would be able to pull off some of the things that Ray does in the film, but I wasn't expecting a true to life experience from The Last Stand when I walked in.
Schwarzenegger won't win any particular accolades for his performance in The Last Stand, but he is back in his usual, dependable form in this first starring role in a decade. His character has been tempered to match the actor's age. Ray seems interested in keeping things quiet and easy in his life, but knows how to kick-ass when the time comes. Luis Guzman delivers a nice mix of charm and light comic relief as his top deputy, Knoxville does his usual schtick but doesn't really wear out his welcome. As the villain, Noriega is appropriately dastardly, shooting a cop early in the proceedings after reminding him of his family, and he wants to drive the Corvette to freedom because, well, its just sounds like fun. Stormare is also appropriately seedy as Burrell, Noriega's henchman, giving us a reasonably hissable foe to root against. Whittaker does the best he can with a mostly thankless role, but provides his usual capable performance.
The Last Stand won't go down as something people will remember fondly as any kind of ground-breaking film achievement, but it is hardly one that will leave you walking out of the theater hanging your head in disappointment. The Last Stand does what it was designed to do, does it well, and provides a nice slice of popcorn munching movie entertainment. As Schwarzenegger's vehicle to return to Hollywood stardom, he could have done a lot worse.
- Feb 2, 2013