Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Last Stand (2013)

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


Anonymous said...

Next up,can you do a review on troop beverly hills?

Franco Macabro said...

Dear anonymous reader, your request might not be that far fetched, I am going to do an 80's month starting in February, all 80's all month! Troop Beverly Hills just might be in there! It's been a while since I've seen it, so I'll try and find it...but there's some goodness in store for lovers of 80's cinema!

venoms5 said...

Now this I want to see. Reportedly it's supposed to be a throwback to older style action pictures, which it looks like in the trailer. I imagine Arnold's recent bad karma via the news had some negative effect on this. Not sure, but it's a guess. It could be like you said Fran, that nobody was all that interested. I guess we'll have to wait and see how these other upcoming movies fare, if all of them even get made. One of them being that proposed TERMINATOR movie? If that goes nowhere, maybe Arnold should hang it up and enjoy the better days of his legacy.

Franco Macabro said...

It does feel like something out of the 80's. I don't know how much all of Arnold's personal life has affected his box office pull, but it could certainly be a factor.

I hope Arnold's upcoming slate of films does well so we get to see another big budget Conan flick, and not the b-movie version of Conan that Lionsgate made a couple of years ago, I truly despised that one! What a sorry excuse for a Conan film!

As for a new Terminator film, I hear an independent producer bought the rights to The Terminator films but hasn't done much with it yet, not even a script? Thankfully, the rights to The Terminator revert back to James Cameron on 2019, maybe then we'll get a decent Terminator film.

Unknown said...

Nice review. I think that the reason THE LAST STAND is smaller in scale is that the film had a small budget and this was Arnie testing the waters so to speak to see if people still wanted to see him. I bet this film, like DREDD will do much better on home video.

As for CONAN, it sounds like the studio is really getting behind it and if Arnie's up for it and addresses his age as well it could work but the right director will be key. Love to see John Milius return but he is so out of the loop that I doubt the studio will entrust him with a big budget CONAN film.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree, he's testing the waters alright, if we are to judge by The Last Stand, then audiences dont want Arnold back. But I seriously doubt thats the case.

While seeing The Expendables 2, theres a scene where Arnold is being held as a prisoner by the bad guys and when the bad guys took that bag of from his face and we see its Arnold, audiences actually gasped and cheered that it was Arnold on the screen.

I just think maybe the film wasn't appealing enough to audiences.

I hope these numbers wont scare Universal away from producing Conan though. Millius is actually a few years younger than Arnold is, but I too think he hasnt made a film in far too long. I think they need an A-class director, that will give this character the respect it deserves. Can't wait to see if this film actually gets made, I like that idea that they want to portray Conan as an aging king who wants to go to Valhalla with a good fight. Sounds so fitting an end to an awesome character!

LLJ said...

This film did get fairly decent reviews from what I saw. It's tough to say why it tanked. Maybe Arnold's personal life hurts him, maybe younger audiences don't connect with Arnold the same way 30+ year old people connect with him. Maybe smaller scale action films don't have the drawing power that effects laden films do, there's a bunch of possible reasons.

Franco Macabro said...

Here's the big question: why didn't the audience tha flocked to see both of the Expendables flock with the same nostalgia to this one? I mean, the same crowd should have gone...but didn't. I guess it's one thing to round up all those action stars in one movie, and it's a whole other thing to put Arnold next to Knoxville? Arnold should have chosen his co-stars better!

venoms5 said...

Techincally, EX2 was a bomb here. With a 100 million budget and only 85 million in domestic ticket sales, that's not a success. What saved the movie was overseas markets. Personally, I thought that movie was pretty sloppy, if intermittently entertaining. Arnold was just a supporting player when you think about it.

With a lot of personal scandal in his life, his autobiography selling beyond poorly, it appears his popularity is on the wane no doubt anchored in part by personal problems and the fact that he's 65 years of age. Also, the film isn't the typical CGI fest with mountains of explosions every few minutes nor people wearing spandex jumping around the screen tossing tanks around. Personally, I loved THE LAST STAND and plan to see it again before it exits theaters.

I just posted my own review for it, too Fran. I wish I could've seen it with you, man. I think we'd of both had a great time taking this one in.

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, these 80's action stars where always bigger overseas. Van Damme, Segal, Arnold, Stallone, they were always bigger abroad. Agree about the sloppiness of Expendables 2, still, I had a blast with it.

Yeah, audiences for commercial films are primarily young kids, most of them don't give a crap about Arnold, that could also have something to do with it. But we'll see, maybe he will fare better with The Tomb and Ten.

I want to see Legend of Conan!

Glad you liked it man, it would have been great to see this with an 80's action fan like yourself! Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll go visit ya! I will be checking out your review, looking forward to it!

Jack Thursby said...

I think Arnie will recover from this. It's Jee-Woon Kim that I feel sorry for. He's a great director - seriously check out A Bittersweet Life if you haven't - and it's a shame his first English language film wasn't more of a hit.

I think these mid-budget films are struggling at the box-office at the moment. The big successes are either low budget or massive.

Looking forward to 80s month!

venoms5 said...

I did read there's doubts now that some of those Schwarzenegger movies will get made at all. It all depends on how well those already in the can perform, at least according to an article I read early this morning.

I hope the others do well as I've always liked Schwarzenegger.

Of course! If you're ever up this way again, let me know and we can work something out!

I'd like to see LEGENDS OF CONAN myself. But that one I have doubts about mainly because the new one bombed, and if Schwarzenegger's other movies fail to catch on, I doubt that one will get made at all, unfortunately.

teddy crescendo said...

Americans go to see movies because they are smitten with the person whos in the film not because of the quality of the film itself, Arnolds star has faded from what it was 20 or 25 years ago, so, even though The Last Stand is (in my opinion) easily as good as any of his 80`s movies its bombed at the box office simply because audiences have snided-off with other younger stars. When you think about it its weird that audiences should be more interested in whos in the film rather than how good the actual movie is. Heres another classic example just to make the point: I thought Pluto Nash was about 1000 times better (literally) than The Golden Child but because Eddie Murphys star had faded by 2002 Pluto Nash went down the toilet at the box office, where-as 16 years earlier in 1986 Eddie Murphy was the biggest star on the planet so audiences would flock to see literally anything he appeared in, even totally unwatchable garbage like The Golden Child, simply because they were in love with the star of the movie, they couldn`t have cared less about the actual quality of the film itself. Like i said, its really odd that, even to this day, audiences still seem to prefer this "worshipping movie stars bull-shit" rather than wanting to see a GOOD movie ! ! !.

Franco Macabro said...

Jack Thursby: I've always enjoyed Jee Woo Kim's movies, last one I dug was I Saw the Devil, a pretty effective horror flick, slick looking.

The poor box office for The Last Stand can't be blamed on the director, image wise The Last Stand is very cool, I think it was just that the film is too low budget thats all, Arnold needed something bigger!

I agree, mid-budget films are suffering and it's because audiences are acustomed to seeing the big budget spectacles.

80's month is going to be all sorts of awesome, nothing but good stuff coming your way, dont miss it!

Venom5: Yeah, I imagined that's what was going to happen, everything is riding on TEN and THE TOMB, let's hope they don't turn out to be stinkers.

Legend of Conan would be awesome, I read that some execs at Universal are really rooting for that project, they want a-list directors and to not make it a B movie the way Lionsgate did. I hope they're still going do it, it's the one film Arnold should make!
Now if they could only work out a character for Stallone as a barbarian, that would be awesome! ha ha..

Tony Crescendo: You make some interesting points, and this is very true, sometimes the action an actor makes in real life affects his popularity, I think another good example of this type of behaviour from audiences was the shaft that Terminator Salvation got, I personally think it's a pretty entertaining flick, but because of all that gossip about Christian Slater getting angry in a set and screaming at some people, the film under performed.

I personally love a good film, but if its with an actor that you are entertained by, and that gives a good show than all the better.

This actor worship thing, well, the movie star has existed since Charlie Chaplin, it's nothing new, masses fall in love with a personality and will back up whatever they do, when they don't fall in love and hate the personality, whatever they do will suffer...Arnold's a good example, Sinead O' Connor another.

Still, I think Arnold can recover from that and continue making movies, the masses tend to forget things easily. I mean, look at Bale with The Dark Knight Rises, he's back again. It all depends on the way the masses perceive something.


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