Border patrol … some new boys' toys for Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Running time
- 107 min
- Kim Jee-woon
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker
- OFLC rating
- MA 15+
THE LAST STAND
Directed by Kim Jee-woon
Written by Andrew Knauer
Rated MA, 107 minutes
Reviewer's rating: 3 out of 5 stars
IN CASE you were wondering, Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't about to join Dustin Hoffman in his campaign against gun violence on-screen.
In The Last Stand, a contemporary western, he fetches up as the sheriff of a small town where even granny has a gun. She puts it to lethal effect in the final shoot-out.
It's 65-year-old Arnie's big Hollywood comeback as an action star and he's chosen to make it in collaboration with Kim Jee-woon, a popular South Korean director with a penchant for mixing up the gunplay and the gore with good old boy jokes and laconic one-liners. You'll get the gist if I tell you Jackass's Johnny Knoxville has a large role as a happy-go-lucky firearms enthusiast with his own museum. Pride of the collection is a World War II Vickers machine gun which comes into its own when the opposition produce their AK47s and rocket launchers.
Naturally, Arnie's Sheriff Ray Owens doesn't go looking for all this trouble - or rather, that's the conceit we're asked to buy into. Every shot is supposed to be fired in sorrow rather than anything more inflammatory. Nonetheless, he can't hide the fact that he's having a very good time. If he's nostalgic about his political career, there's no sign of it here.
Sheriff Ray is a highly decorated officer who has retired from the Los Angeles Police Department for a quieter life in a little Arizona town near the Mexican border. It's his day off when we meet him and he's breakfasting in the local diner when he notices a suspicious pair of strangers at a corner table. One is played by Peter Stormare, who's enjoying a thriving career as one of Hollywood's favourite villains. He's also on show in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, looking even more unsavoury than he does here.
While Sheriff Ray checks him out, the scene shifts to Las Vegas where Forest Whitaker is playing an FBI agent in charge of transporting a Mexican drug lord to prison. But before the convoy can reach the city's limits, Jee-woon has it ambushed in an elaborately choreographed stunt sequence involving a crane and pulleys, together with an acrobatic team of rescuers in sleek body suits, and a Corvette capable of doing 400km/h. Its idling engine sounds like a volcanic eruption.
The drug baron (suave Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega) is planning to drive this monster all the way to the border. He could take a plane but he thinks he'll have more fun behind the wheel - and he's right. Sheriff Ray's little town is right in his path.
And so the scene is set for a carnival of political incorrectness involving a dizzying array of boys' toys with Arnie rejoicing in them all - in a world-weary sort of way.
It's not his first film since he stopped being California governor. He appeared with the gang of elderly action men in The Expendables and its sequel. But they were cameos. This one marks the beginning of an Arnie blitz. He has three films on the way, including Triplets, a follow-up to Twins, the Ivan Reitman comedy he made with Danny DeVito in 1988. In the new one, they're aided and abetted by Eddie Murphy.
The laughs here are mostly of the gallows humour variety with the rudiments of script draped around the stunts, explosions, car crashes and shoot-outs. The main aim of the plot is to delay the arrival of Whitaker and his SWAT team long enough for Arnie to upstage the technological marvels of modern law enforcement by taking care of business, assisted only by a few loyal deputies and Knoxville's antique arsenal. On the upside, he's not been given a love interest and he's rather more adept at simulating self-deprecation than Sly Stallone. Bruce Willis, however, does it better. But these ageing action men occupy an increasingly crowded field. The big question is whether or not they have a big enough audience to go round. I think not.