Review: The Last Stand (2013)

Lionsgate: Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Last Stand"Over the years, Arnold Schwarzenegger has done quite a job of building a rather large group of fans for himself. From first receiving notoriety as a bodybuilder in the 70’s, to becoming a box office success with huge movies through more than two decades after that, this Austrian born star created a brand that made him into a bona fide household name. Much to my chagrin, he moved on from acting and chose to flex his muscles in the world of politics for a while. He appeared to be gone for good, but the man who once said that “gay marriage should be between a man and a woman” is back! His first film back in a feature role? The Last Stand.

Formerly known as the “governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his return to the lead acting position by starring as Ray Owens, the Sheriff of Sommerton Junction, Arizona. Owens is different from all of the other old guys wearing those shiny sheriff badges though. What separates him from the pack is that he’s a former narcotics agent who served time in some of the most dangerous and drug filled areas of Los Angeles, California.

As he resides in this small town as its sheriff, he also manages his small crew featuring only three fellow officers. They patrol this town with very little to do, but that’s the way old man Owens likes it and wants it to remain that way. He wants to avoid the firefights and shootouts that he’s had the unfortunate pleasure of being a part of in his past, and he’s one hundred percent sure that nothing in the quiet Sommerton Junction can rival anything he’s seen before.

Not too far away in Los Angeles, the old stomping grounds of Sheriff Owens, John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) leads his team of FBI agents that are in the process of moving a dangerous drug kingpin who goes by the name of Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega). This criminal can’t be taken lightly, so the FBI decides to move him at a specific time that no one can know about. In spite of their efforts, Cortez is a third generation boss, so you better believe he’s learned a few things from the predecessors who came before him.

With some special tricks up his sleeve, Cortez manages to escape the clutches of the people responsible for his imprisonment and makes a break toward the Mexican border with his army of gangsters leading the charge. In his line of sight lies the little old town of Sommerton Junction. As the FBI pursues him from behind, Sheriff Owens and his trio of officers may come to stand as the last line of defense between the FBI’s most wanted drug lord and the freedom that he’s so desperately chasing.

Being a longtime fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, it shouldn’t come as a shock to know that I was excited about catching The Last Stand, his most recent release. Since he’s clearly older than he once was I didn’t go into this flick expecting to see a man in his prime. However, I still wanted to get him back on the scene getting in on the action in a leading role. I got that wish with this movie, but that doesn’t mean that his return would be any good the first time around.

In order to assist the returning vet, you do have a list full of diverse actors who help build the story and contribute in all of the blood soaked and trigger happy shenanigans that take place in The Last Stand. You have the well-versed and experienced Forest Whitaker, the young and visually appealing Genesis Rodriguez and unfamiliar faces like Zach Gilford. Including these three, all of the significant players play a pivotal part in the film’s plot.

A movie like this also consist of some comedic relief, and I figured that would be brought in by the likes of Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzman. It’s how they make their living and they didn’t really disappoint at all. Their quirky characters add a sense of fun that keeps the movie’s jokes coming and fresh. Although I liked what they did here, The Last Stand doesn’t rely on those two alone to get the laughs.

They bring in some amusing situations that are able to get a reaction from the audience, and they also make sure to include some one-liners from one of the kings of one-liners. It’s nice to hear Arnold deliver these lines in classic Arnold style. You don’t see this form of entertainment used in action movies as much, but I’m happy with the fact that they let it flow a good bit here. It creates a sense of nostalgia I was hoping for and I’m sure there are many viewers who will find them entertaining.

With Schwarzenegger, Knoxville and Guzman providing some of the good time laughs with comedic sets and vintage one-liners, we still need to get the action. That is what we came for right? In The Last Stand, you have fast cars, big guns, explosions and fight scenes popping up throughout the action and it’s done in a way that most fans of blood drenched action would interested in seeing.

For the most part, The Last Stand is a simple action flick that doesn’t even attempt to change or revolutionize anything. You go in assuming that you’re going to witness some smash mouth violence done with a battle between good and evil right in the middle, and that’s what you get.  The best part about this movie is that Arnold gets put back into his element right off the bat as he rejoins the business. Hopefully, The Last Stand represents a return that will see him back in front of the camera and behind a loaded gun taking out bad guys for a while longer.

Score: 3/5

Rating: R

Director: Kim Jee-Woon

Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Forest Whitaker
Luis Guzman
Jaimie Alexander
Johnny Knoxville
Eduardo Noriega
Peter Stormare
Rodrigo Santoro
Genesis Rodriguez
Zach Gilford

Film Length: 107 minutes

Release Date: January 18, 2013

Distributor: Lionsgate Films