Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Last Stand Review

The Last Stand is an incredibly dumb, brutish action film with a thin plot and even thinner characters…but I loved it all the same.  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen (his appearances in both Expendables movies notwithstanding) delivers on pretty much exactly what you expect going in; lots of action.  And that’s pretty much all we get with this film.

***Spoiler Warning is in effect***

A cartel boss pulls a prison-break and escapes Federal custody while being transported to death row.  Forrest Whitaker’s Agent Bannister is the inept FBI agent in charge of the operation (seriously, Arnold tells him straight-up that there are bad guys in his town but just gets dismissed like he’s an idiot).  The bad guy is heading toward the Mexican border and his path will lead him directly through Sheriff Ray Owen’s (Schwarzenegger) small New Mexico town.  After the absolutely worst FBI agents manage to lose the bad guy at least twice, it’s up to Arnold and his small crew of deputies to stop him and his group of cronies that shows up early in the film.

There isn't much finesse or nuance to the story; bad guy is going from point A to point B and must be stopped.  Sheriff Owens is a fairly apt parallel to Arnold’s off-screen presence; he is old, has seen and done a lot in his time, but can still kick ass when he needs to.  I’m sure that Arnold didn't do many of his own stunts, but there are a few awesomely kick-ass moments that make me very glad that he’s back in the realm of cinema.  The supporting cast is just fine; not spectacular and not horrible.  You get the sense, from Johnny Knoxville especially, that they’re just having fun blowing stuff up and killing scores of professional baddies.  Each player gets their moment in the spotlight - Luis Guzman’s Mike walks out of smoking wreckage, slaughtering bad guys with a WW2-era M1 Thompson sub-machine gun.  Cheesy, yes.  But incredibly fun as well.

By the end, all of the cronies are dead and it all comes down to a show-down between him and the Sheriff.  If you don’t like anything about the film, I would hope that the final car chase (through a disorienting corn field) and subsequent final fistfight would get your blood pumping.  Both are incredibly interesting and well executed (save for some very dodgy green-screen work during the bridge confrontation) and are just a blast to watch unfold.  It felt right at home in Arnold’s stable of ridiculous action moments.

While the story, characters, and dialogue leave much to be desired, where The Last Stand shines is in its action.  Largely shaky-cam free, the action is very clear and comprehensible and makes total geographic sense.  It isn’t making much money and isn’t getting the best reviews, but Stand is simply a fun time at the movies.  If you turn off your brain and just sit back and revel in the fact that Arnold is back and kicking ass, you’ll probably have a great time.

The Last Stand is a fun action movie with some great moments…just make sure you turn off your brain.

The Bearded Bullet.

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