The question with "The Last Stand," Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the big screen (not counting "The Expendables 2") after being the governor and at the heart of a messy marital scandal, is this: Does he pick up where he left off as an action hero, or is it an embarrassment, hurtling him down the road to cinematic obsolescence?
The answer falls somewhere in the middle. For sure, "The Last Stand" is no "Terminator," but it is a fun, if predictable, action-thriller that has no problem gently reminding you how old he is -- 66 -- while simultaneously having him give the world's most dangerous drug cartel kingpin a brain-banging beatdown.
Schwarzenegger is Sheriff Ray Owens, who presides over his small, sun-baked
Little does he know that, miles away in Las Vegas, Mexican gangster Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) has made a daring, highly choreographed escape from federal custody. He is on the lam in a modified Corvette ZR1, reaching speeds of up to nearly 200 mph as he races toward the border. Cortez, with the help of some of his cronies, plans to smuggle himself back
Angry federal agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker), who seems to have had a long obsession with capturing the slippery Cortez, calls to warn Owens that the dangerous felon is headed his way. So it's up to Owens and his ragtag, ad hoc crew -- which also includes well-armed town eccentric and comedic relief Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) and ne'er-do-well Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro), the only occupant in the town's tiny jail -- to keep Cortez from making his escape to Mexican soil.
South Korean director Jee-woon Kim ("The Good, The Bad, the Weirs"; "I Saw the Devil"), working from a script by Andrew Knauer, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and George Nolfi, keeps things moving quickly in his Hollywood debut. Cortez's breakout on the streets of Vegas at the film's start and a car chase through a corn field near the end show off a keen visual eye.
That helps distract viewers from the story's outbursts of improbability. (No one even suspects that a large bridge, not hidden by foliage and easily seen from the air, is being built by a criminal gang near their town? Really?)
Certainly, Schwarzenegger moves a bit slower than
That's the main thing anyone going to see this film cares about. With "Terminator 5" announced and a fleet of other Schwarzenegger movies in the pipeline, those afraid "The Last Stand" indeed would be Arnold's last stand can breathe a sigh of relief.
He'll be back.
'the last stand'
* * ½
Rating: R (for violence and language)
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville and Zach Gilford
Director: Jee-woon Kim
Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes