The Last Stand marks the true triumphant return of one of our favorite action heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perhaps it was going in with little to no expectations, but this film is one heck of a joyous, action-filled joy ride... literally!
Sure, he technically returned to film after his stint as California governor with The Expendables and The Expendables 2. But, as told to us in our Arnold Schwarzenegger interview, the man is quite proud of The Last Stand marking his first starring vehicle since he resided in Sacramento. The film could not have been a better choice for the action star seeking to satisfy his fans and earn a few that may have missed the potential of Arnold awesomeness while he was governor.
The film is about a small border-town Arizona sheriff (Schwarzenegger) who was once an elite LAPD officer. When a drug raid he was on resulted in many police deaths, he walked away from the force and moved to south Arizona to become the town's lead law enforcement officer. Compared to Los Angeles, his town is quite quiet, and that is exactly how Schwarzenegger's Ray Owens likes it.
Unfortunately, his quiet little community is about to be shaken up by one of the world's most violent and notorious drug lords, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega). He has broken free of an FBI prisoner transport led by Forest Whitaker's John Bannister and is heading south at breakneck speed in a new Corvette.
As the escaped convict makes his way through the southwest, we quickly learn that our only hope for stopping the drug lord from returning to Mexico is Sheriff Owens and his rag-tag group of deputies. Schwarzenegger is joined by Jaimie Alexander (Thor), Luis Guzman (who had the best Boogie Nights quotes!) and Johnny Knoxville -- the latter is deputized when it is clear that the big guy needs help.
What works so well, and it is teased in The Last Stand trailer, is how director Jee-woon Kim and screenwriters manage to have fun with the action hero's advanced age. Every action scene is believable that a 65-year-old sheriff on the verge of retirement would be able to execute them and have a chance to come out on top. Without overdoing it, they manage to interject some age humor at Sheriff Owens' expense without ever resorting to the "I'm too old for this (expletive)" standby.
Schwarzenegger was born to play many of the roles that he's inhabited over the years -- that history has proven. But, our The Last Stand review can state that Sheriff Owens can easily join that legion. He brings a subtlety meets savage intensity that stands next to the Terminator, his Commando character and even Conan the Barbarian.
The Last Stand is a popcorn movie that never takes the audience for granted. There are no gaping holes that force the viewer to question the progression of the action onscreen. Instead, the Korean director -- who is making his Hollywood debut -- effortlessly weaves a web of intrigue, action, humor and heart that should warm audiences that come in from the January cold.