The Last Stand centers around a simple premise: an escaped fugitive needs to cross the border into Mexico and the local police department of Sommerton Junction is the only thing standing in his path. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the local sheriff and he actually delivers a strong and believable performance. If only this were true of the other actors involved. Other characters include: a local gun nut played by Johnny Knoxville, which while it gives the local police force a plausible reason to have a Gatling Gun, it is clear the filmmakers weren't sure what to do with him. Forrest Whittaker is also involved and plays a tough FBI agent in dogged pursuit of the escaped convict, but he appears bored throughout the entire film and barely rises above being a completely useless character. Peter Stormare also appears as the leader of a para-military group assisting said convict, but for some confusing reason decided to use a terrible and inconsistent southern accent (the man is Swedish!).
Then we get to one of the main problems of the film: Eduardo Noriega. This is the actor portraying the fugitive Gabriel Cortez, a notorious, third generation drug lord. His acting ability is laughable and any attempt he makes to appear menacing comes off more like a bad Saturday Night Live impersonation. He spends the majority of the movie behind the wheel of the Zero One, a ridiculously souped up performance car that for plot convenience he knows how to drive, being a famous South American racer and all (ugh). Jee-woon Kim, the director of the film, makes the cringe worthy misstep of "Fast and Furious'ing" all the Zero One scenes. Those of you familiar with the first few Fast and Furious films know what I mean: the car apparently has 20 plus gears and somehow is able to go in reverse at over 100 mph.
The director himself shows competence in his filmmaking ability, but it's merely that: competent. Nothing here stands out or shines (with the lone exception of a tense car chase through a wheat field) and it's clearly a by the numbers action film that fails to ever dazzle your senses. One particular scene at the end pits Arnold against the fugitive, in what is agonizingly clear to be a badly rendered green screen shot. All the big action sequences seem perfunctory and resolve themselves right as you start to get interested. The overall plot brings nothing new to the table and again the only one who even seems to be trying in the movie is Schwarzenegger.
The Last Stand was designed to be reminiscent of classic 60's and 70's action movies. But why reminisce when you can just watch those classics again instead?
To see or not to see: NOT
+ Arnold is back and clearly loving it
+ While gory, it's not ever over the top
- All the other actors are either sleepwalking, completely un-invested in what's going on, or are just used in a way that suggests the director didn't know what to do with them
- The antagonist of the film is laughably bad and is almost exclusively used to showcase the Zero One escape vehicle in a shallow and ridiculous way
- The cinematography is bland and one scene in particular is an eyesore of terribly used green screen
- Most of the lines are spoken in a clunky exposition style that distracts from the already bare bones story line
Afraid to miss the Gatling gun scene? No worries, you can see a real one in action here and save some dough!