Brandon: Schwarzenegger plays Ray Owens, a former LAPD Narcotics Agent who left the big city excitement after a bad incident to become the sheriff of the sleepy New Mexico border town of Summerton Junction. Summerton is a town where nothing exciting happens, except for the occasional drunk and disorderly, or petty theft arrest, but this sleepy town is about to get a rude awakening. A notorious drug lord Gabriel Cortez, portrayed by Eduardo Noriega, escapes from FBI custody and starts making his way towards the Mexican border at 250 mph in a stolen, custom Corvette ZR1. Its faster then any chopper. Cortez also has an FBI agent hostage in tow as he dodges police barricades and evades helicopters, usually with very bloody aftermath.
The FBI task force leader Agent Bannister, played by Forest Whitaker, thinks it’s a slim chance that Cortez will pass through Summerton, but Arnold's character knows something isn't right. Immediately suspicious of some visitors (one being played by the amazing Peter Stormare), the Sheriff knows they clearly don't belong there.
In his recent autobiography, our favorite action hero describes his part in Last Stand as “a great, great role.” “The sheriff knows if he succeeds,” he writes, “it will mean everything to the town. His reputation is on the line. Is he really over the hill or can he do it?”
With ‘Last Stand,’ Arnold has his own reputation to re-solidify as leading man. Again, the megastar and Governor of California hasn’t anchored a movie since 2003′s ‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’, and at 65, some worried that he’s past his prime as an action hero. Is Arnold over the hill or can he still do it?
From this Arnold fans perspective, the answer is, “Hell Yes!” The action looks great; the acting gets better and better as the film runs, and there are a few gruesome kills that will make any gore fan happy!
The screenplay by Andrew Knauer doesn’t give Arnold as many of his signature one-liners. Many of them, such as “How are you, Sheriff?” to which he replies "Old!", was already given away in the trailer. But don't worry, there are a few more hidden gems.
Arnold and his team, who consist of the moody veteran played by Luis Guzman, the rookie cop played by Zach Gilford, the beautiful and skilled deputy played by Jaimie Alexander, her screw-up ex boyfriend (who is stuck in the towns single jail cell) played by Rodrigo Santoro, and of course, the crazy, eccentric goofball, who happens to own a small museum of artillery, played by Johnny Knoxville, ban together to become the 'Last Stand' between Cortez and freedom.
The shootouts are all high tension, and there is plenty of high octane car chases for you Fast and Furious fans, plus there are some amazing visuals as well. Kim Ji-Woons entry into US theaters keeps his edgy style engraved within the heart of the picture, and is just as much fun as 'The Good, The Bad, and the Weird', yet still manages to capture traditional Hollywood flair.
There is one thing about this picture that I want to warn you about, it takes a little while to really get going. It's a large cast, so each one needs a bit of an introduction and story to make you care, so I understand. But the great juicy Arnold action starts little more then half way in. And at times, I felt myself wishing there was just a LITTLE more Arnold. But all in all it's not a huge deal. Our Hero still steals the show here, as he should.
Overall, I really liked this film. I cheered, I winced, I threw popcorn in excitement! Is it as good as, say... Terminator? Of course not, but it's on par with, if not better then, the likes of Eraser or Collateral Damage! And I really liked Eraser.
Arnold is Back! With this being his first entry into cinemas in a long while, and it turning out so well, I'm now very excited for his next pictures 'The Tomb', 'TEN', and of course 'Legend of Conan'! Get your ass to the Theaters!
8 out of 10 stogies
Randy: Thanks, Brandon! Good points. Now let me add a few more.
Although Knoxville is fine in the movie, I'm not sure why he got second billing considering it felt like he was in the movie only for a few minutes. Arnold gets most of the screen time followed by the two lead villains and the person on the sheriff's force with the most screen time is the adorable Jaimie Alexander, playing officer Sarah Torrance. After you see the movie I think you will probably wish it was Jaimie on the poster with Arnold.
The film's score done by Mowg is very strong and helps accelerate the action or pump up our emotion. Let's just say that not everyone makes it out alive and Mowg, along with Jaimie Alexander's strong acting skills, may convince you that you too lost a loved one. We know Arnold looks jacked but I'll let you guess who gets whacked.
There's some great stunt work and even impressive ones done by Arnold including the one where he's falling off a roof. Tait Fletcher does well too. In one scene he does a great truck stunt very reminiscent of a T2 stunt only this one looks more fast-paced and dangerous. Arnold's good friend and stunt double Dieter Rauter does some memorable stunts, gets some good screen time and even gets one of the film's biggest laughs.
There's not a whole lot of need for computerized special effects in this film but the end scene involves Arnold putting up a fight on a bridge. This is one of his best hand-to-hand combat fights that he's ever done so prepare to be thoroughly entertained. But it's here where there's a very strange looking effect. When we first see Arnold standing on the bridge you think to yourself that it looks insanely fake. But when it shows it again you begin to wonder if this was an effect that the director wanted to achieve. Its fake and yet beautiful at the same time. Kim Jee-Woon was maybe going for a visual work turning Arnold into a cinematic masterpiece. Or was it just a rushed special effect? Let me know what you think of that shot.
As for my own stogie rating? It's funny, Sven-Ole Thorsen, who Brandon and I had breakfast with on Tuesday morning, demanded that I give him my number rating. "Well," I began, "you have to grade this film as an Arnold film. You have to grade it on a fun scale."
"NO," yelled Sven. "Stop this nonsense. Just give me the REAL number," he insisted.
Sven wanted no part in my excuses but the bottom line is that you DO have to grade The Last Stand in its own category. Because if it was taken as a serious suspense thriller or up for Oscar consideration, this film would fail. But it was not made to be in this category, I tried to reason with Thorgrim. This film was only made with one intention: to entertain. The Last Stand will in fact have us all achieve THE PUMP!
In Sven's ball-busting and light-hearted anger of my "irrational reasoning" to give him the score he wanted to hear and for the fact that I told him that Arnold's friend Dieter got the biggest laughs in the movie, and the fact that Sandahl Bergman bailed on our breakfast meeting, Sven-Ole Thorsen destroyed our coffee spoons and left them in a twisted heap. At least he signed this metal mess for me.
Face it, Thorgrim, I LIKED the movie A LOT and for what it is meant to be...it gets a good 7.5 on the stogie meter for entertainment. Put that in your pipe (or Monte Cristo #2) and smoke it!
For me, it's not better than Eraser which is one of my all-time favorite Oak movies but it is better than a lot of other films from Schwarzenegger's filmography. See The Last Stand multiple times: it's worth it! And next weekend when your significant other drags you to another movie...be sure to buy tickets for The Last Stand and then sneak over to see that other crap film. Or just MAKE your significant others see Arnold's movie AGAIN! In case you missed it; the movie is worth MULTIPLE viewings! Get ready for action! Get ready for The Oak! In our cinemas, HE'S BACK!
We're riding in style! Hop on, everyone! THIS WAY to the cinemas to see The Last Stand!
Gillinator: Wait a minute, guys, there's one more reviewer here... ME! I didn't make it to L.A. with the guys, but I just saw the 10pm screening in my town, and also can't wait to see it again! I agree with most of their points- it is a bit of a build-up until we get real Arnold action, but that's due to the nature of this plot and westerns in general, and make no mistake, this is absolutely a western, yet also completely modern and unique. I love Kim Ji-Woon's stylistic spin on tried and true scenes like the town shoot-out, the horse chase (in cars), and the show-down. It's a genre we've never really seen Arnold in before (unless you count "The Villain") and he slips into the role of town Sheriff perfectly. His acting starts out slightly stilted- I think it's funny that Arnold playing "happy and relaxed" seems a little off, but when shit starts going down and he gets emotional and determined, he really becomes the character more somehow- it's hard to verbalize, but I guess it's fitting since both Arnold and the Sheriff are more in their element at that point.
I'll be brief with the rest- high points: ARNOLD who totally still has it and carries this film, good supporting character ensemble, Kim Ji-Woon's style, fun (and at times shocking) violence, amazing stunts, the score, the humor is worked in well and not overplayed, and the showdown brawl which is worth the price of admission alone! It's great to hear classic Arnold "grunting" a la "Running Man."
Low points: The entire Las Vegas escape scene dragged a bit, didn't make much logical sense, and not really necessary. It could've been shortened a lot, or only shown us key points in flashback, so we didn't have to take the focus off Arnold and his team for so long. Dialogue is OK but nothing special (but you don't need much dialogue in westerns and the good acting makes it work). Some of Arnold's one-liners seemed to fall slightly flat, but I think seeing it with a bigger crowd on Friday or Saturday will imrpove them. I really wanted Arnold to have the line "Get to the diner!" which is said by someone else, so he could say it like "Get to da choppah!"
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 stogies Not top-shelf, but a great start to his comeback in a role that we haven't seen him in before, yet still giving us plently of familiar "Go Ah-nuld!" moments. Agree with Randy, repeat viewings are necessary and my score is subject to change.