People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back! Grizzled, old, and scraping his way back up the old Hollywood chain the only way he knows – killing people on screen! Arnie wasn’t ever much of a traditional “actor” so the trailers riffing on his arsenal of terrible one-liners doesn’t surprise me. Will this film propel Big Arnold out of the “I-screwed-my-maid-and-had-a-hidden-love-child” gutter and back to the Hollywood A-List? I don’t think so.
I don’t know if anyone on Earth, aside from film geeks like myself, will walk in to The Last Stand with any thought in mind besides, “Oh my god Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger is back on screen – he looks old.” And, for the most part, The Last Stand is just that: an hour-and-a-half reminder of who Schwarzenegger used to be (big, Austrian, bad at acting, good at killing) and who, for the most part he still is. To do so, spotty Korean director Kim Jee-Won (he of the 2/3rd amazing The Good, The Bad, and The Weird) has crafted a, well, an 80s action movie around the hulking, wrinkly presence of the former mega-action star. Arnie plays Ray, a former bad-ass LA cop who’s voluntarily slunk out to pasture after a bust gone bad. Now, he’s happily the sheriff of a small town on the Arizona/Mexico border, managing a bumbling staff of four cops and living out his life. Enter a bad guy with a fast car (literally the only thing this bad guy has going for him is a fast car and evil) who wants to use Arnie’s town as a throughway for his big, bad escape. Cue guns (lots of guns), zany sidekicks (Johnny Knoxville and a decidedly chubby looking Luiz Guzman) and some groan-inducing one liners and boom goes the dynamite, you’ve got a return to sort-of-form for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film never really feels like a film though. Blame it on a clearly small budget, and the strange meshing of free-form Korean filmmaking and our more structured style, but The Last Stand never really gets of its feet. Sure, Arnold kills a lot of people. He jumps through windows and tackles people and quips one-liners (my favorite, “Obliged.”) and is typically as Arnold Schwarzenegger as one human being can possibly be. The film revolves around Arnold and it feels like every minute of the film, every line, every explosion and death is just another way to say, “Look! Arnold is back and he might be old, but he can still kick ass!” For a while it’s fun. Look! Arnold is back! He still can’t act very well, but man does the shit he say sound funny with that Austrian accent. And then, thirty minutes in when the camera is once again focusing on Arnold laying down the law for a group of newbie cop kids, it doesn’t. It becomes this strange amalgamation of an after school special, an 80s action movie, and a small-town Western and it does not gel. Every word that Arnold says feels forced, dragged out of him by a director who was just trying to make his star happy. Every character, including Old Man Schwarzenegger, is pretty much one defining characteristic, so when bullets start flying, and people start hitting the ground, it’s hard to muster anything but puzzled amusement. Hell, that’s what this entire film felt like, a big blast of almost good times mixed in with an even greater blast of befuddled enjoyment. Could have been much more? I don’t think so.
Even if I wasn’t smitten with this film, Arnold is certainly back. The packed theatre of buzz cut, military dudes I saw this film with fucking loved it. Arnie has returned, I’m just curious what form it takes now.