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The Last Stand Review


Director: Jee-woon Kim

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Johnny Knoxville, Jamie Alexander

Running Time: 107 minutes


Synopsis: When the leader of a drug cartel escapes prison and makes a break for the Mexican border, the sheriff of a sleepy town is all that stands between him and his freedom…

With the exception of a few expendable cameos, it’s been a decade since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s broad shoulders filled the 16:9 ratio. In that time many have aspired to steal his action hero crown; The Stath, The Rock –  even that wolf twerp from Twilight had a crack – but none were up to muster. Now the king has returned and there are high hopes for THE LAST STAND to reinstate his rule over the realm of Action-dom. The question is, is it any good?

No, we’re afraid not.

THE LAST STAND is clichéd, predictable  and cinematically feels more like a vehicle for one of Arnie’s lesser pretenders (ahem, Stath!). Whilst Schwarzenegger retains an undeniable gravitas, we must face the jarring reality that he is getting a little too old for this shit. The film makes many nods to this; boat shoes, reading glasses, that paunch, but it over eggs the postmodern self-awareness to such a point, that when he stops sleuthing and starts kicking butt it’s hard to buy. Whilst it’s super satisfying to have Arnie back unloading a shotgun at pesky bad guys and pumping out a few one-liners, all the good stuff is saved for the final act, and until that point the film is laboured, tawdry and – dare we say – a little bit boring.

Let’s face it, the audience just wants to see Arnie, and this partly explains the supporting cast and their paint-by-number characters. The capable Jamie Alexander is reduced to playing the typical part of half empowered female, half damsel in distress, and the loveable Johnny Knoxville dons an aviator hat to play the kooky gun freak. How original. In fairness, their mediocre performances stem from a dull premise and lazy scripting, and they can’t be blamed for wanting to share Arnie’s limelight.

Regardless of the film’s quality Schwarzenegger’s career will plough on, but THE LAST STAND is director Jee-woon Kim’s big break into Hollywood movies. Having had success with the likes of mad-cap actioners such as THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, he no doubt has hopes of opening new doors. The direction here is perfectly fine, but it’s not breaking any new ground and the fact Kim is yet to confirm his next project suggests an uncertainty as to whether he’ll be staying in Hollywood or returning to his native South Korea to continue his career.

This is slightly harsh – THE LAST STAND is a moderately fun picture, and Arnie does as good a job as ever. In fact, the climactic fight sequence may be his best – a brawly wrestling match of body slams and brutal blows that the audience has waited the whole movie to see. The main problem is tone. This feels like a cheap B-movie, but that shouldn’t be a problem – Arnie movies were always B-movies, ridiculous, blood-splattered tales of a one-man army exacting revenge, televised gladiatorial death matches, and even a dude having a baby for crying out loud. So why doesn’t it work? Too much expectation? A shoddy script? The age factor? It’s all these and more. THE LAST STAND drops the ball with a script you’re never quite sure if you’re laughing with or at. Without the presence of Arnie it would be little more than a TV movie you’d happily switch off.

With the big man’s latest return being a diminishing one, THN is left to wonder what will become of the likes of rumoured future projects, including CONAN and potentially TERMINATOR 5. The idea of Arnie making good on his promise to ‘be back’ might have been exciting, but the reality is as clear as the lines on his face. Perhaps it would have been better for Arnie to have burned out than enter an inevitable drawn out period of fading away into self-parody – it’s a real shame.

2 Star New

THE LAST STAND hits cinemas 24th January

A BA in Media & an Art MA doesn’t get you much in today’s world – what it does give you however is a butt-load of time to watch a heck of a lot of movies and engage in extensive (if not pointless) cinematic chitter chatter. Movies and pop-culture have always been at the forefront of Joe’s interest who has been writing for THN since 2009. With self-aggrandised areas of expertise including 1970s New Hollywood, The Coen Brothers, Sci-Fi and Adam Sandler, Joe’s voyeuristic habits rebound between Cinematic Classics and Hollywood ephemera, a potent mix at once impressively comprehensive and shamelessly low-brow.

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