The Last Stand (MA15+)
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman
DIRECTOR KIM JEE-WOON
REVIEW SHANNON HARVEY
You’ll like this if you liked Last Action Hero, The Expendables, Fast Five, the Die Hard films, High Noon.
Just one look at the poster for The Last Stand - where Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his post-Governator return to action movies - makes me groan for two reasons.
The first is that Arnie is attempting a comeback to action-man status 10 years after Terminator 3 and at the age of - ahem - 65. Alas, the former Mr Universe now looks less like "a condom full of walnuts" (as he was famously described by Clive James) and more like Waldorf or Statler from The Muppets. The ex-Terminator seems shorter, pudgier, rustier and creakier than ever before, as if in dire need of a grease and oil change.
The second is that the poster depicts Arnie holding a whopping-great M-134 Minigun (the same one he used to level the jungle in Predator). I'm not sure what's sadder; a 1980s action-movie icon who doesn't know when to say when or an industry that doesn't know when the glorification of gun worship is in bad taste and worse timing.
The same goes for Sly Stallone's upcoming shoot-'em-up, Bullet to the Head, but that's another story.
Ageing stars and gun worship aside, The Last Stand proved to be a pleasant surprise, a gleefully dumb throwback that plays on Arnie's action-hero heyday and a curious blend of brutish 80s action and B-Western showdowns.
It's High Noon meets Hasta La Vista and it astutely knows exactly what kind of film it is: a trashy action-comedy with bouts of graphic violence and plenty of nods to Arnie's better days.
The plot, however, is so simple and cliched it can be written in just 39 words: Nasty Mexican cartel boss Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escapes FBI custody and makes a run for the border. To get there, he must pass through the sleepy cowpoke town of Sommerton, where the sheriff (guess who?) makes his last stand.
So when Arnie's decorated LA cop turned small-town sheriff grumbles the line: "I know what's coming," it makes The Last Stand play like one big salute to Arnie's career.
Better still, it comes with a cracking support cast. Forest Whitaker adds urgency as the panicked FBI honcho in the control room. Luis Guzman hams it up as the sheriff's bandito deputy with bow legs and a 10-gallon hat. Jackass captain Johnny Knoxville is an eccentric gun nut who joins the fight (and performs a Jackass-style stunt to boot). Harry Dean Stanton pops up with a quick but punchy role. And Peter Stormare threatens to steal the whole shebang from under Arnie's plodding feet as a snaky madman sent to Sommerton to clear Cortez' path.
It must be said, too, that much of The Last Stand plays like one of those Fast and Furious flicks, with Cortez burning rubber in a modified Corvette Stingray with a staggering 1000 horsepower.
Korean director Kim Jee-woon can't help but drool over too many shots of the sleek sports car darting down the highway and dodging multiple roadblocks. And just when you think the film couldn't get any more corny, Arnie and Cortez bash and crash their muscle cars through a cornfield in the climactic showdown. Corn-y!Then again, Jee-woon clearly knows the kind of turkey shoot he's making and Arnie almost winks at the screen and grumbles: "I'm too old for this s..t!"