Film Review: The Last Stand
He’s back. In his first lead role in a decade, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to our screens as the small-town sheriff facing off with an international criminal who is trying to reach the Mexican border. The Last Stand is no Die Hard, but it’s one of the more entertaining action romps of recent years with some fantastic car chases (particularly in the final scenes), awesome brawls and great shoot-outs.
“How are you, Sheriff?” the bar staff ask a bloodied and battered Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger). “Old”, he replies, but even at 65 the veteran action star has still got it, delivering heavy blows in fistfights and his classic one-liners. He’s still the Arnie we know and love. However, it’s almost exclusively nostalgia and our love for Schwarzenegger that carries the film.
Whilst Johnny Knoxville takes top billing on the film’s posters, his role could barely be considered a cameo. But consider this a blessing when his role as eccentric local arms collector Lewis Dinkum – like an obnoxious H.M. Murdock by way of Dick & Dom – is one of the most annoying characters ever to grace an action film. The less of him, the better. Schwarzenegger carries the comic relief alone without the need of madcap characters like Dinkum – the pairing recalling some of his awful comedic partnerships of the 1990s.
Unfortunately the supporting cast has to make the best of a lacklustre script, and whilst Jaimie Alexander and Luis Guzmán (playing Owens’ fellow police officers) are enjoyable to watch, others – such as Zach Gilford, Génesis Rodríguez and Eduardo Noriega – are unbelievably lifeless. Forest Whitaker’s talent is criminally underused as FBI Agent John Bannister, who barely gets a look in when he’s supposed to be leading the whole operation.
With the writing emphasized on Arnie’s fights and quotable lines, the plot itself is utterly dull and generic, purely providing a framework to set up Arnie’s battles. Sadly, the empty characters and their relationships pale in significance to the action scenes and the strange emphasis on advertising Chevrolet cars (if you didn’t realize, the villain is escaping in a CORVETTE). But after the obligatory (and rather tedious) exposition is out of the way, The Last Stand sinks its teeth into some exciting car stunts and confrontations that offer some sense of gratification – you wanted an ‘Arnie movie’, you got it.
Whilst the opening is tedious and the plotline is flat, this is a movie made to welcome Schwarzenegger home. It’s not one of his best, but it’s a promising return to the world of Hollywood for the seasoned action hero and an exciting preview of the kind of action he is still capable of pulling off. With Terminator 5 just around the corner, The Last Stand certainly whets the appetite.