Director: Kim Ji-Woon
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro, Luis Guzmán
The Governator has left office and he’s back with a bang on our screens. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the Last Stand, the English language debut of acclaimed director Kim Jee-woon (Doomsday Book, The Good, the Bad, the Weird) attempting to forge a career once more in Hollywood. Arnie plays former Los Angeles cop Ray Owens living out his semi-retirement as the sheriff of a small Arizona town near the Mexican border.
A sleepy back-town unwittingly becomes the centre of daring escape by a Mexican drug kingpin (Eduardo Noriega) from the FBI in Las Vegas. Owens is joined by his deputies and local gun nut Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) who just happens to have a massive stockpile of weapons. Owing to the bumbling and uncooperative nature of the Feds, in particular the leading agent (Forest Whitaker), Owens and his small army appear to be the only chance of stopping this daring and elaborate escape.
If someone was to say that this film had been made or sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA) it would not be a surprise. The plot appears to tell viewers that the stockpiling of weapons and extreme violence is the only way of saving the day. Coming so soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, a number of scenes will raise eyebrows around the world; in particular the long gun battle on and around an empty yellow school bus. It would appear that this movie is a reaction from Conservative angst over possible gun control coming out of Washington, but I doubt to claim that this was the actual intention of the director.
Shot throughout New Mexico, the locations in this film are breathtaking, providing the perfect backdrop for a violent encounter. Having said this, something is lacking in this film. Despite a series of enjoyable scenes, many do not blend well together and some parts feel forced and contrived. 65 year old Arnie slips back into his famous Hollywood persona which proved to be an enjoyable and welcome aspect of this movie. Although this cinema style can be compared to Tarantino, this film would never strike up the controversy which seems to always come with Tarantino’s projects.
In the end, looking too deep into the meaning behind this movie is pointless and one should just enjoy it for what it is: a generic western-style action movie. To anyone out there who just wants an action movie to kill a few hours or a night out, this is your port of call. You won’t leave the theatre questioning the meaning of life, but you will get your action and Schwarzenegger fix, and is that not the true meaning behind these movies?
In a Nutshell: A perfectly acceptable, albeit ludicrously trigger happy way to disengage your brain.