'The Last Stand' movie review
By Stephanie Merry
Friday, January 18, 2013
Given the aggressive predictability of “The Last Stand,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first starring vehicle in nearly a decade, it would be fitting to begin this review with some derivative “I’ll be back” joke. That’s the thing about this corpse pileup of an action movie. It persistently tries to drag the audience down to its mindless level.
Schwarzenegger plays Summerton Junction Sheriff Ray Owens. His normally sleepy border town gets a jolt when a dangerous cartel boss escapes from custody in Las Vegas, grabs a hostage and plans to cross into Mexico through Ray’s jurisdiction. Naturally, the sheriff isn’t going to sit by and watch as some criminal cuts a path through his turf, and in a fancy Corvette, no less. So Ray gathers a couple of inexperienced cops, an ex-Marine-turned-thief and a loony gun enthusiast to block and apprehend the bloodthirsty psychopath.
There are a few laughs along the way, but the script-writing and filmmaking work toward the common goal of illustrating carnage in the most audacious ways imaginable. Bad guy Gabriel Cortez (played by the unintimidating Eduardo Noriega; the term “girlie man” comes to mind) may not stray from highways on his journey toward the border, yet he’s impossible to track and impervious to blockades. The unbelievable details don’t matter when the movie’s main objective appears to be serving up the types of demises that elicit an “ohhhhh!” or maybe an “ewwww!” from the audience.
Schwarzenegger is hardly renowned for his natural acting abilities, but this role -- a role he’s played again and again -- still seems like a burden for the former governor. Each syllable and facial expression comes across as strenuous heavy lifting. And whether it’s the middling script of halfhearted one-liners or the proximity to Arnold, the other, usually reliable actors get dragged down, too. The talents of Forest Whitaker and Luis Guzman are wasted in the roles of a no-nonsense federal agent and a clown of a deputy, respectively.
Johnny Knoxville risks no such fate portraying the aforementioned weapons collector with a screw loose. He’s still the same old Jackass. He wanders around in his jammies, sporting an earflap cap and vintage goggles and shooting a high-powered weapon at a hanging slab of meat. It’s no fault of the movie, but the timing couldn’t be worse to make the film’s jester a character with more weapons than brain cells.
There are a few heart-pounding car chases, but no amount of adrenaline could prevail over the expository dialogue, fetishistic attention to death and dismemberment, and easily foreseen outcome. In fact, the most exciting and unexpected twist during the movie may have been when an audience member decided to answer his cellphone. “Are you serious?” another moviegoer yelled. And for the first and only time during the film, the tension in the room was palpable.
Contains graphic bloody violence and crude language.