Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Knoxville. Rated 14A.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s not kidding when he says he’ll be back. The Last Stand is his first attempt to carry a picture since finishing a gruelling stint in politics and writing a tell-all biography about his messy personal life. The good news? Die-hard Arnold fans can forget all that and enjoy the heady nostalgia of gaping flesh wounds and heavily accented quips. Director Kim Jee-Woon clearly wants us to party like it’s 1985.
Of course, a few things have changed. To put it kindly, Arnie’s current squint gives new meaning to “tough as leather”. And the plot—about members of an outgunned police force determined to defend their small town against a heavily armed band of thugs—won’t do anything to calm down America’s raging debate over gun control. But if you find the thought of cartoonish stereotypes and excessive violence distasteful, this probably isn’t for you anyway.
Still reading? Well, assuming you’ve checked your scruples at the door, there’s a fair bit of mindless entertainment here. Schwarzenegger plays an Arizona sheriff with a distinct Austrian accent and the unlikely name of Ray Owens. Ray discovers that an escaped Colombian drug lord named Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) is racing toward his jurisdiction in—wait for it—an experimental race car. Meanwhile, Cortez’s armed mercenaries are secretly building a bridge on the outskirts of town. Cortez’s plan? To make it across to the Mexican border by way of Ray’s town and the newly constructed bridge.
Thankfully, the game cast has a lot of fun with this farfetched notion. The ensemble—which features everyone from Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville to such seasoned character actors as Harry Dean Stanton and Luis Guzmán—isn’t above poking sly fun at the whole enterprise. As for Arnold, he delivers precisely what you’d expect. No more. But no less, either.