this is Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback then his best days are behind
After ending his political career as Governor of California, this is
Austrian's first solo vehicle in ten years: a colossal fizzer that
his most adamant fans impatient by the halfway mark. On its first
the US, the film opened at a miserable ninth place, collecting just six
dollars and never looked like improving. How did this happen to one of
recognised action heroes in movie history?
isn't a factor to me. Schwarzenegger is now
sixty-five, which might seem like zimmer frame territory for his work,
there are older stars like Clint Eastwood who are still raking in the
Bluntly, Schwarzenegger hasn't made a great film since the Nineties.
The Terminator films
still rate as the apex of the
modern action genre, but the series faded after the second movie. His
films were always boosted by a mixture of humour and technology, and
ability to soften the malice of the violence through one-liners and
self-parody. However, these are no longer his own idiosyncratic
qualities to make
him seem unique again.
high level of gory violence that marked his early films
is now frowned upon by studios because it weakens the bankability and
likelihood of roping in younger demographics. Ideologically, Arnold
belongs in a bygone era too. He is a renowned Republican, who once
Nixon. His films are similarly ingrained in archaic,
values of one man, separate from government, who can save the world.
culture of Reaganism is dead now and action films, like The Dark Knight,
have becomes infinitely more
sophisticated in blurring the lines between good and evil.
Nonetheless, The Last Stand is
as conservative a film as Schwarzenegger has ever made. He plays
Owens, who guards the dusty town of Sommerton in Arizona. He's
surrounded by a small
ground of deputies, which include: Mike (Luis Guzmán),
Sarah (Jaimie Alexander) and Jerry (Zach Gilford).
They deal with the town's small problems and eccentrics, including
(Johnny Knoxville), who is a weapons collector and local inmate Frank
Santoro). Ray is also suspicious of a pair of seedy goons that are
way through the town, one of whom is named Burrell (Peter Stormare).
in L.A., Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) is a dangerous criminal who
escaped custody. Pursued by Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker),
a high powered sports car to elude capture and takes a female agent
plans on crossing the Mexican border via a bridge through Sommerton.
his team have to prepare for a surge by Cortez and his mini army of
powered thugs, who are looking for a clear exit route.
are vague strands of a Western here, with Schwarzenegger playing the
role of an
honest lawman, who wants to protect his town against the more
folk. But for a long period the film is terribly lethargic, devoid of
and its narrative contains no surprises, lacking a unique story hook or
concept. Korean director Jee-woon Kim's also makes the fatal flaw of
the film's megastar to the backseat. Too much time is spent with
sports car, a painfully indiscreet vehicle for someone evading the law,
having the side characters dominate the action scenes.
only becomes involved in the second half but few of the stunts seem to
ageing joints. His first big action scenes, firing a shotgun from a
unloading a Gatling gun from the back of a school bus, both have him
stationary. His character is also caught between two conflicting tones.
first half there are close-ups of Arnold's weathered, stony face,
wrinkles and fake tan, as he fires off lines like: "I've seen enough
and death. I know what's coming."
late in the film, Kim also tests his hand with
slapstick comedy and then fetishising those high powered weapons. It
gel and Kim's choppy visual style leaves the action cold too. The only
set pieces are the two climaxes: one in a cornfield with hidden cars
and then a
clumsily staged and embarrassing showdown on a bridge. This over-edited
fistfight combines the worst of Lethal Weapon and
World Wrestling, on top of a cringing, conservative message about
illegal immigrants at bay.
with all that gunfire though, Arnold's film didn't fail because it was
Instead, maybe his most lead-heavy films, especially this one, are a
reminder of those real would-be cowboys today, who'd like to look down
scope of their guns and say: "I'm the sheriff."