Synopsis: The leader of a drug cartel busts out of FBI custody and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff
There’s a fitting and poignant line half way through The Last Stand as a bruised and beaten Arnie lands face first through a diner window in front of a group of strangely unaffected locals. When asked how he feels all he can muster is “old”. There’s no doubt it was said with tongue in cheek as a knowing nod to Arnie’s post political big screen comeback. But the once biggest star in the World is 67 and looks every second of it as he hulks his pensionable man mountain frame around looking a little out of his depth.
The premise is straightfoward; Arnie is a former LA narco cop who transferred to small town Nevada to get away from the violence. When a Mexican Cartel boss escapes from FBI custody to make his way back to the border Arnie soon realises he, his band of inexperienced cops and well meaning civilian militia are the only thing standing in his way.
The Last Stand is Arnie’s contribution to the recent action sub-genre phenomenon of once great action stars fighting bad guys with their walking sticks, and making every effort to play up the “i’m too old for this shit” shtick. Except, they really kind of are. Which is why it works for The Last Stand that director Kim Jee-Woon gives his leading man enough screen time to make it his movie, but not enough dialogue to mean he is required to carry it. Instead Jee-Woon plays to Arnie’s strengths; lots of guns, a bit of fighting and the occasional one liner. The bulk of any characterisation (might be stretching the meaning of that word) and need for emotional moments are left to the supporting cast of cardboard cutout characters; grizzled FBI agent; young naive cop who wants more excitement and gets more than he bargained for; sexy, dangerous escaped criminal; local gun toting but well meaning nutjob; and town drunk who wants to avenge something for redemption. I can only imagine that a fat paycheck and the chance to work with Arnie got Forest Whitaker to sign on for such a 2 dimensional role.
Within the first 5 minutes though, when you’ve seen every major action trope rolled out amongst a haze of terrible dialogue, and accept this is an Arnie comeback movie it becomes a lot of fun. At 97 minutes it is easy watching, even if 45 of those will be spent wondering about the giant plot hole about the chosen mode of transport that centers the movie.
And while there is a certain sadness to watching Arnie try and recapture something he is long past doing effectively it will, at the very least, make you want to go back and watch T2, Predator and True Lies.
Conclusion: In some ways The Last Stand is a proper old Arnie action movie, in that he doesn’t say much and dispatches people with increasingly big guns. But every time he waddles like your Grandad chasing a £5 note you are reminded it’s 2013 and he should probably be retiring.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Gabriel Cortez, Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford, Johnny Knoxville