Stuff blowin’ up real good in Redneck City.
The Last Stand is an actioneer’s action movie, a film so overstuffed with explosions, gunshots, profanity and testosterone that it might have been more appropriate as a video game rather than a movie. I had a friend of mine describe the movie as being “The guyest guy guy movie you’re ever going to see”. That much is true. Whether its the best one, or even a good one, is up to you.
Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzeneggar) has been the sheriff of Summertown for many years now after having quit his profession of being a cop in Los Angeles. Summertown is a quiet place, a small town where crimes range from the Mayor parking his car in a fire lane to deputies firing at slabs of meat during lunch time. In a small, quiet town such as this, Ray finds little excitement in his day to day routines and he is perfectly fine with that.
But one day, he receives unwelcome news from the FBI: a nation-wide criminal named Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escaped from the FBI’s hands and is fast on his way to the Mexican border, where he will be out of the FBI’s reach. The only thing blocking his path: Summertown, which also sits on the United States border to Mexico. Owens now has to rise up to the challenge to defend his home. To defend its citizens. This is the last stand.
This is Arnold’s first lead role after his 10 year hiatus as California’s governor. Before that hiatus, Arnold was a standout in a slew of memorable action roles, including (but not limited to) Predator, Total Recall, True Lies, Last Action Hero, and my personal favorite, The Terminator and its sequel. All of those movies are memorable, exciting, suspenseful, and sport great blockbuster entertainment.
Now look at The Last Stand. This movie cannot help but look shoddy compared to those titles because of its plot, its only inconsistently funny and exciting, and whats worse, it depends on the forumula of repetitive action. Wonderful. We certainly don’t get enough of those, now do we?
Let’s take a deeper look at Arnold real quick. The man has had a great career. Before going into office, he was asked to be in these tense, highly riveting action roles, and he was damn good in all of them. Now, he’s been dilluted to just standing tall and read lines as everyone else turns to him asking what to do when a drug cartel is ready to tear through his town. Guys, come on. This is the 42nd governor of California, not Angus MacGyver.
The rest of the characters aren’t really that helpful or compelling. Zach Gilford portrays Officer Jerry, a guy who wants to see more action than he does but then gets his nose broke by the recoil of a gun. Luis Guzman plays as a chubby mexican officer, and he’s so stereotypical he might as well have been portrayed by Anthony Anderson. Rodrigo Santoro and Jaimie Alexander share a forced romantic conflict in the middle of all the bullets and gunfire, and while they’re coincidentally dodging all of the bullets amist their kissing, all I could think to myself was “Hey kids! Find a shower!”
The worst miscalculation, however, is in the film’s villains: Eduardo Noriega as Gabriel Cortez and Rodrigo Santoro as his goatee, ponytail lackey. Noriega is worthless as the main villain, and is just stuck to driving a car recklessly for more than two-thirds of the movie until the last 20 minutes where the climax calls for a chase scene. But even worse is his lackey, who seems completely lacking basic motivation of reasoning behind his actions.
Take a look at the only three things he does in the movie: kill a farmer, build a bridge over to Mexico, and strike a raid across Arnold’s town. Explain to me A) Why he killed the farmer and clued the detectives into his plan, considering the construction of the bridge was nowhere near the farmland, B) How the bridge to Mexico only took around 24 hours to complete, C) Why waste resources building a bridge when he can just bring in a helicopter for the escape, and D) What is the relevance for attacking the town when it means nothing toward Cortez’s escape? His actions seem senseless, almost like his decisions are delegated by the script just for the sake of action sequences and explosions. Why must an action film like this seem so mindless, so pointless in its structure and so artificial in its writing?
The film’s most entertaining character is a man named Lewis Dinkam, portrayed by Jackass star Johnny Knoxville. Highlight, embolden, and underline Jackass. This guy is the opitimy of stupid, most of it portrayed humorously so. This guy is an absolute psycho, shooting off pistols and machine guns named “Betty” and “Nazi Killer” with his pajamas on and tearing off electric polls by climbing them and chainsawing the electric wire. Is he the smartest character in the bunch? No, but he is the funniest, although I don’t understand why he’s wearing a woolly hat in the middle of the summer.
Ultimately, I’m at a loss with The Last Stand. There’s no doubt entertainment value here, but it is severrely misguided, almost like a misfired Colt. Half of the film is used to just set up its premise with predictable scripting and bad acting, while the other half is used for repetitive and monotonous action, gunshots, and F-bombs.
“But David”, one fellow viewer pointed to me, “That’s entertainment! People need entertainment because real life sucks!” This is true that people need entertainment, and The Last Stand will satisfy some viewers. For others however, they will be left yearning for a better story, more original action, and a more worthwhile experience. In the meantime, what you see is what you get: if its action you want, boy oh boy, it action what you’re going to get.