For some time now Arnold Schwarzenegger has been dipping his toes into making a return to the big screen, from a digital Arnie in Terminator Salvation to a more recent lengthy cameo in Expendables 2. The anticipation for a full blown Schwarzenegger comeback is pretty much through the roof and now the man who made 3 little words, world famous is doing what he promised, Arnies back!
The Last Stand sees Arnie as a small town sheriff who’s tasked with stopping a Mexican drug cartel leader who is enroute to crossing the border through….go on, have a guess…Arnie’s small town.
I grew up watching Schwarzenegger movies that I was about 10 years too young to see. My bedroom was covered with posters of Commando, Conan and The Terminator. How I nearly cried with laughter with Schwarzenggers appearance in The Expendables 2. How I nearly wet myself when Arnie announced he was returning to the big screen, full time. And now, how I nearly cried when I sat through The Last Stand. But for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, Arnies does what he does best, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The plot here is nothing but bloated and dragged out, to the inevitable conclusion, which to its credit is exhilarating and exciting. It’s like the writing team came up with a great final quarter, but didn’t have much of an idea what to do with the rest of the movie. The introduction and utilisation of Johnny Knoxville is weak and pointless. While Knoxville does play the part quite well and provides some comic relief it doesn’t detract from the fact that his role is nothing but fodder to make things a bit more interesting. If it were not for a number of set pieces throughout, some of which are nothing spectacular and are straight out of a TV movie, things would be very boring indeed.
Schwarzenegger himself though, while exhibiting a little bit of ring rust, is incredibly likeable and bursting with personality. But combined with a poor script, things don’t fare too well for the big guy. His one liners are weak and lacking any of kind of zing that audiences have become accustomed to. The supporting cast and the bunch of bad guys are a bit unmemorable with the exception of the 200mph Corvette the chief bad guy hurtles around the place. Oh, and I nearly forgot, Forrest Whitaker is in here too. Here comes that word again..unmemorable.
Jee-woon Kim has a solid list of directorial credits under his belt including A Tale Of Two Sisters and The Good, The Bad, The Weird, but The Last Stand is certainly not in the solid category. Excluding a few interesting camera angles on occasion and a just above average pacing, either he lost the will to direct or there was just too much studio notes and involvement. Either way, this is a disappointing outing for the director.
The Last Stand is primarily let down by a brutally bloated script that drags on forever and gets utterly pointless, but once you can make it through the first hour, it delivers. While it’s great to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back on the big screen, he’s certainly not back with a bang. More of a whimper than anything else.