Title: The Last Stand (2012)
Director: Jee-Woon Kim
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Peter Stormare, Luis Guzman, Jamie Alexander
Read an article the other day on Deadline that said that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s come back vehicle The Last Stand was dead upon arrival, that it’s officially a huge flop and that “nobody wants to see Arnold anymore”. Speak for yourself is all I say, I want to see Arnold again alright, and I want to see him kicking ass like he used to, so of course I went to see The Last Stand in its opening weekend. But of course, this is the day and age when the success of a film is determined by it’s opening weekend grosses and sadly, according to box office numbers, The Last Stand only made an abysmal 6.3 million on its opening weekend…which of course immediately marks this one as a turkey in the eyes of its producers and the film industry in general; especially when its budget was 30 million. But is the slow turn out for this movie representative of its quality? Is The Last Stand a shitty come back film for Arnold? Read on my friends, read on.
In The Last Stand, Arnold plays an aging sheriff who was part of the L.A.P.D. during his younger days, but has moved to the quiet little town of Summerton to live a simpler life; to live his last days in peace. But of course, there’s no rest for the wicked and so a big time Mexican drug dealer has just escaped the grasp of the F.B.I. and is looking to make his way to the frontier, so he can make the quintessential getaway to Mexican territory. In order to do so, he’s acquired a modified Corvette ZR-1, ensuring in this way that his getaway is a speedy one. Too bad for him that in order to crossover to Mexico, he has to go through the town of Sommerton and Sommerton is Arnold’s town, you do the math.
So that’s your basic premise for this very basic movie. I think that the reason why this film isn’t making huge bank is not because “nobody wants to see Arnold anymore” because I think in the public’s eye, and in movie fans eyes Arnold is as cool as he’s always been; people do want to see more of Arnold. They just want to see him in a better movie thats all. A problem the film suffers from is that it's premise is far too simple, one look at the trailer and you know exactly how everything is going to go down. There’s nothing remotely novel about the film, and that’s always a dangerous deal. Well, the big draw is of course seeing Arnold being an action star again and making fun of himself, but that’s not enough, you have to pull people in with some sort of entertaining or cool concept, otherwise audiences will wait for the dvd, which is what will probably happen to this here film. It seems to me that for Arnold’s big cinematic comeback, we needed something a little more bombastic then Arnold fighting off a small group of goons, in a small town. If you know anything about Arnold Schwarzenegger then you know that ‘small’ just doesn’t fit into his vocabulary. Arnold has always been about bigger and badder things. This story just seemed too small, to laid back for what you’d expect from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But the question remains: was this a bad movie? Hell no. Truth be told The Last Stand is actually a fun romp, an entertaining flick that’s decidedly smaller in scope, but not any less entertaining because of it. Hey, at least this isn’t another Collateral Damage (2002), Arnold’s lowest point in my opinion. The Last Stand actually has a couple of good things going for it, first off, there’s the joy of seeing Arnold back on the silver screen in his first solo role since Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). The only difference here being that Arnold is no longer the indestructible action hero he once was. On this one he shows signs of vulnerability and old age, which he wisely makes fun off. On this one he’s the Sheriff who just wants to enjoy his day off. Of course it’s cool to see Arnold raising his gun, pointing it straight at the camera, shooting some bad guys and saying things like “Welcome to Sommerton!”. Movie buffs who have seen Arnold on screen since his Predator (1987) or Commando (1985) days are gonna get a special kick out of that, I know I did! Then we got the supporting cast which was fun to watch, Luis Guzman in my opinion was one of the funniest and most entertaining things about the film, he really livens up the movie with his comedy. Johnny Knoxville plays the resident coo-coo, but he does it well. Not so sure he deserved top billing on this film though, his role is minimal.
Then we have the other star of the film, the cool as hell Corvette ZR1 which instantly goes down on my Memorable Movie Cars list, this is one of those cars that becomes an essential part of the film. It has its moments, for example, there’s a car chase that takes place right smack in the middle of a corn field, pretty cool sequence. We also get a cool shoot out at the end of the film, if you wanna see Arnold shoot some big guns, you shouldn’t be disappointed; and yet another cool extra is seeing Arnold go on a ‘mano a mano’ with the main villain of the film. It’s interesting seeing an aging action star doing his best to show us that he’s still got it even though he is well into his 60’s, like Conan the King wanting to have a good fight before going to the heavens with the gods in Valhalla. My final word on The Last Stand is that it should’ve been a bigger film, Arnold should have chosen something more explosive for his big come back, it’s too small in scale to call any attention upon itself. At least Arnold’s still got two more films to prove his still got some box office draw. There’s The Tomb (2013) which he’ll co-star with Sylvester Stallone and finally Ten (2014) which I’m looking forward to because it’s directed by David Ayer, the writer/director behind such awesome films as Training Day (2001) and Harsh Times (2005). Let’s just hope that these two films make more money than The Last Stand did or there’s little chance we’ll see that proposed Legend of Conan film we keep hearing so much about, now there’s an idea for a comeback!
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5