Friday, January 18, 2013


The Last Stand

The Last Stand "I'll be back!"—That has become an instantly recognizable catch phrase associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger. After his gubernatorial gig and about ten years away from the big silver screen ("The Expendables" doesn't count), he is back, indeed. His comeback is violent and bloody as usual in Korean director Kim Jee-woon's predictable, comical, and entertaining Western "The Last Stand" (USA 2013 | 107 min.). As expected, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a tough guy armed with heavy ammunitions like an action hero toy figure. He speaks corny lines in a similar hoarse voice like Clint Eastwood, plus the Austrian accent. This time, however, he might get another catch phrase to identify himself: "I'm the sheriff!"

The film opens with an exhilarating grand escape by a death row inmate Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), an extremely dangerous kingpin of a notorious Mexican drug cartel. He is aggressively pursued by the FBI, led by a mumbling and incompetent Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker). Cortez is sleekly zapping his way toward the US-Mexican border in a modified Corvette ZR1 that goes beyond 200 mph—if that looks like a car commercial on the big screen, it probably is.

Nothing seems can stop Cortez along his path, which is why Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) comes to the picture to be the last stand. Owens is the low key sheriff in a small Arizona town called Sommerton Junction next to the Mexican border. Somehow, the tiny little Main Street of this quiet charming town is the only path Cortez must pass through in his sporty car before he crosses the border. Never mind that he actually makes his race track in a corn field. Owens and his few inexperienced deputies setup a blockage to face off Owens and the drug cartel led by a ruthless Burrell (Peter Stormare).

Of course, everybody can guess who wins in the end.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in THE LAST STAND

Despite the predictable plot and laughable dialogue in the script, director Kim Jee-woon admirably puts together an entertaining show with fast cars, big guns, flying flesh, occasional humor, and the terminator. He is one of the best in creating action sequences that are both original and spectacular. Certainly we have seen plenty car chasing in action movies, but Kim still can comes up some new ideas in this film when it comes to car chasing—have you raced in a corn field before? Although this film is no comparison to his immensely enjoyable Western "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" (좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈 | South Korea 2008), this film still shows Kim's talent and his wild imagination.

With Arnold Schwarzenegger blasting off heavy artilleries, with Eduardo Noriega racing a sport car over 200 mph, with couple sheriff deputies shooting at a piece of meat for fun, the targeted audience of this film is quite obvious. I am sure the car manufacture must be very pleased about the car performance featured in the film, and the NRA might organize viewing parties to show how an old lady can finish off a criminal as in the film when she conveniently pulls out a gun under her couch pillow.

There are many comical moments in the film, but hardly because the writing or the characters are truly humorous. We laugh either because the lines are dumb, or because they are spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Luis Guzmán. For example, how can you hold of your giggling when Arnold Schwarzenegger slams down the telephone after shouting at Forest Whitaker on the other end: "I don't know you! I don't answer to you!" That surely sounds like Arnold is back, not as the Governor of California, but as a Sheriff.

"The Last Stand," a Lionsgate release, opens on Friday, January 18, 2013 at Bay Area theaters.

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