There is something to be said for delivering exactly what you promise. The Last Stand is exactly what you think it is: a cheesy, completely over-the-top, fun, action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not starred in a movie in 10 years, since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; which, in case you forgot, was not great. In the 80s, he was one of the biggest action stars around. My favorite of all of those was Predator, followed closely by the Running Man.
Jee-Woon Kim is a Korean director who grew up loving those action movies. The Last Stand is his first American movie.
Kim’s directing is perfect for this type of movie; fast and quick, but with just enough pauses to remind you that this town is small and sleepy. There is plenty of preposterous-ness to go around: the cartel leader happens to be a fantastic race car driver; the town crazy happens to run a weapons museum that the sheriff and squad can use to defend the town; the one deputy who ‘wants more action’ is the first one to die; the sheriff and the villian face off across the bridge he needs to cross to get to Mexico etc.The cast is super fun:
· Arnold Schwarzenegger is perfect as the aging sheriff. You can completely believe that he chose to come to this quiet town where nothing happens to work until retirement. Everyone in the town knows him. This also marks the first movie that his clearly-an-immigrant status is addressed. Usually in an Arnold movie, no one brings up the fact that they can barely understand him. He also really plays up the old part. Fitting, and appropriate.
· Forest Whitaker plays the lead FBI agent on the trail of the Cartel Leader, and brings his typical Forest Whitaker-style unnecessary level of intensity to this role. He is very intense, through the whole movie, and it’s unnecessary. He mainly gets to yell while in the headquarters of the feds about roadblocks and research and gets angry when Schwarzenegger hangs up on him twice. He does not use his black belt in karate in this movie.
· Peter Stomare, who is usually the perfect generic Euro-bad guy, plays a generic American (?) bad guy in this. Essentially he is the Cartel leader’s number one henchman, and gets to do all the typical mustache-twirling bad guy statements and gunfights.
· Eduardo Noriega, who apparently is a big time actor in Spain, plays the Mexican Cartel leader, Gabriel. He’s perfectly villainous and slimy, and is able to escape because he has a mole inside the feds! Surprising! (sarcasm).
· Luis Guzman plays Luis Guzman as a deputy in a small town. He provides some comedy relief, and doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen him do before, but he’s lots of fun in this.
· Johnny Knoxville plays Johnny Knoxville as a crazy weapon museum owner in the small town. Any comedy relief moments that are not already filled by Luis Guzman are filled by Johnny Knoxville. Silly and ridiculous – not necessarily in a bad way.
· Zach Gilford plays the young deputy who early on in the movie complains about there not being enough ‘action’ in this small town for him. He wants to move to L.A. where “things are happening”, so you know right away he will be killed first. He’s the Dead Meat character in this, which I explained in my previous post. Just as a rule of thumb, if you are ever in a bad action movie, don’t talk about your family, and how much you love them…or all the plans you have for the future. You’re digging your own grave.
· Jamie Alexander – Lady Sif from Thor – plays the female town deputy who is tough and dedicated. She does a good job in this (as good a job as you can do in this kind of movie) and makes me wonder if Sif will get more to do in Thor 2.
· Harry Dean Stanton inexplicably shows up for a cameo. He plays a grumpy old rancher. So, you know, he plays Tommy Lee Jones.
· The much beloved Rodrigo Santoro from 300 (Xerxes), or the much hated Rodrigo Santoro from Lost, depending on who you are, plays a local town Iraq Veteran who is constantly getting into trouble, but gets deputized as soon as the trouble gets going. And, he is of course, the ex-boyfriend of Jaime Alexander’s character. Because that’s how these things work.
All in all, the movie is crazy, dumb, loud, and over-the-top; precisely what you want in a bad action movie. I loved it – check it out, but don't pay full price!7 out of 10: great entertainment value. Gained points for the car chase through the corn field, never seen that before. Lost points for Forest Whitaker’s eye, which I have learned is a genetic thing called Ptosis and totally not his fault, but still – off-putting. Gained points for Johnny Knoxville firing a flare gun into the ammo-filled bandolier of a villain, resulting in the villain blasting to pieces – gross, and hilarious.
Bonus Video 1: Running Man Trailer…so great.
Bonus Video 2: Man on A Ledge Trailer – Genesis Rodriguez was in this, and she’s in the Last Stand…and Man on a Ledge was better than you think…check it out.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews!