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The Last Stand

The Last Stand

What She said:

She

The Last Stand is exactly what you expect that it will be, or at least exactly what I was expecting it to be.  First of all, let me say that I stand by my belief that this movie was created purely as a way of making money off the success of The Expendables franchise.  Suddenly, cheesy 80s-style action movies were back in as a fad, and the movie execs wanted to utilize this to make some serious coin.  Credit to Arnold Schwarzenegger, he took this role seriously and is in decent shape for it.  However the movie is just your average brainless action flick.  Actually, it also serves as a bit of a parody of itself, although not quite smart enough to be a full on satire.

The movie is about the small town of Sommerton Junction, where nothing interesting ever happens.  Schwarzenegger plays Ray Owens, sheriff of this sleepy southwestern hamlet.  The place is so quaint; it actually looks like something out of an old Wild West movie, fake store-fronts and all.  But the world of Sommerton Junction, its residents, and its police force are rocked when there is a mysterious murder of the town’s dairy farmer.  In the meantime, Sheriff Owens is notified that there’s an escaped fugitive named Gabriel Cortez, a notorious drug kingpin, on his way and that he may come through town in an effort to cross into Mexico.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Owens, smarter than your average bear, begins to put all the pieces together, and with very little help from the FBI, as he decides to try to stop Cortez.  His only support is from his rag-tag police force.  Can Arnold, I mean Owens, stop the bad guy before it’s too late?

So there ya go, there’s your premise.  It’s very basic.  Most everything about this movie is basic.  It seems the writers didn’t have the capacity to dig too deep.  I think the biggest plot twist involves the reveal of a double-agent hostage at the end of the movie but it’s so poorly done that you’ll sort of just shrug and forget that it ever happened. 

Let me tell you the good of this movie.  It’s a little funny, filled with action, and surprisingly unboring.  Now, let me tell you the bad.  It’s sooooooo poorly written.  From the characters to the dialogue to the general storyline, it’s bad.  Laughably bad at times.  Forest Whitaker, who plays the head FBI agent, is quite awful.  Some of the things they have him say actually made me giggle.  Of course, Arnold is provided with some one-liners and such, but even those are not as clever as those in his past movies.  The worst part of the film is probably the bad guy.  He actually doesn’t even have to say that much to be bad.  It’s his demeanor and the fact that he drives some souped-up Chevy that can travel at 190 mph, easily.  It houses something like a 1,000 horse power engine.  Because he has this super car, which seems to run on jet fuel, he’s able to continuously outrun and outsmart the police, and pretty much runs circles around them. 

There are several lapses of logic in this film.  For one thing, wouldn’t the bad guy just run out of gas?  He’s traveling from Vegas to Mexico in a car with a 1,000 hp engine.  That baby has got to get the worst gas mileage imaginable.  I’m thinking something like 4 mpg.  And yet, the FBI can only think of really dumb ways of catching him. How about waiting for him to pull over for a fill up?  Doh.

So, anyway, this movie is super stupid, and yet I did not hate it.  I’m embarrassed that I didn’t.  I feel like that knocks me down a few notches on the IQ classification.  But I could not help but be mildly amused. 

And I mean mildly.  Let’s not give this thing too much credit.  I think what allows this to get by is the nostalgia that it creates for class 80s action flicks.  It feeds on that, and this enables the movie to not be flat out offensive.

Thumbs half up.

The Last Stand

What He said:

He

I was excited about this movie for a few reasons. First, it officially marked Arnold’s return to the big screen. His appearances in The Expendables movies were nothing more than cameos. This was the first movie where he was back in the spotlight since Terminator 3 over a decade ago. Additionally, I felt this simply looked like a better movie than either of the Expendables movies. Plus, this is Arnold we’re talking about here. As much as I love all of the action heroes of my childhood, he was always the biggest name, so his return is attention worthy, especially considering the genre’s struggles in recent years.  

Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) seems like a pretty relaxed guy. He seems very content with the lifestyle in the small town of Sommerton Junction, Arizona. He used to be a member of the LAPD, but has resigned himself to the quiet life in rural America; where the biggest thing he has to worry about is an illegally parked car.

That is until the day infamous drug kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escapes from FBI custody and races across the country in an attempt to cross the border near Sommerton. What this chump doesn’t know is that nobody walks into Arnold’s town and decides to use it as a means for committing  illegal activities. Nobody!

The Last Stand

Ray is joined by a number of sidekicks. Deputies Jerry Bailey, Sarah Torrance, and Mike Figuerola are the bulk – if not all – of the police presence in Sommerton. Jerry (Zach Gilford) is dying for some action. He wants to leave town and head to LA, where he knows Ray used to work, and do some real police work. Sarah seems content staying in Sommerton and takes her job as a law enforcement officer – even if it is in the middle of nowhere – very seriously. Mike is a lot like Ray. He’ll do what needs to be done when the time calls for it, but he’s perfectly content being a cop in a small town. Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) is a local dealer of antique weapons. Though he’s not a cop, he hangs out with them often, due to the fact they all share an interest in shooting things with the stuff he has in his vast collection.

I thought this movie started off pretty good. The villains escape was well-executed and there was some decent chase scenes after that, but after a while, they got less and less exciting. Plus, the guy was just a cheeseball. He wasn’t intimidating or even fun to laugh at. The guy was just corny.

The rest of the performances were a mixed bag. Forest Whitaker was horrible as FBI Agent John Bannister. There wasn’t a thing he said or did that came off as believable. Luis Guzman was pretty funny. I usually like him. Jamie Alexander was ok. She was trying a little too hard at times. So was Johnny Knoxville, but he was good for a few laughs. Peter Stormare was a little bizarre. He’s better than this performance. I’ve seen him be downright frightening in movies, but he was just strange in this role. Arnold wasn’t bad. He played the aging hero well, but also looked really old at times too.

Overall the movie was ok. It seems like writers and directors nowadays are more interested in making spoofs of old action movies rather than movies in the vein of them; and sometimes that approach just comes off as trying too hard. There were some scenes that were entertaining enough, while others were a little flat. It wasn’t bad overall, it just could have been better with some fine tuning. I thought it could have been pretty good if they simply tightening some things up.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on June 7, 2013.

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