He promised he’d be back. True to his word, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen and to action-hero mode in The Last Stand, which unfortunately proves that he’s lost a step and hasn’t improved his script selection, either.
It’s been almost a decade since Schwarzenegger last starred in a film, which happened to be Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and it’s been much longer since he starred in anything really worthwhile. You would think that within the past 10 years, eight of which Schwarzenegger spent as governor of California, someone would have crafted a sufficient comeback vehicle.
Since that wasn’t the case, there’s The Last Stand. In this latest effort, he’s as affable as ever, and his fans will be happy to see him return to butt-kicking and name-taking in a movie that overflows with testosterone and machismo. But it’s really, really dumb.
Schwarzenegger plays the respected sheriff of a small Arizona town along the Mexican border whose quiet weekend is interrupted with news from a Las Vegas FBI agent (Forest Whitaker) that a notorious drug kingpin (Eduardo Noriega) has escaped custody and is heading toward his town with a souped-up sports car, a hostage and a plan involving destruction of anyone who tries to stop him. The no-nonsense sheriff and his ragtag staff become the last hope for his capture.
The film tries to showcase several violent action sequences, mostly car chases and shootouts, and has its share of highlights in that department. A Western-style showdown involving a school bus on Main Street is stylish, and a climactic car chase in a cornfield is at least out of the ordinary.
Things aren’t helped much by Korean director Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil), making his English-language debut, who doesn’t bring much visual flair to the fight scenes and action set pieces, which generally feel choppy and underwhelming.
Schwarzenegger has an assortment of sidekicks, including a miscast Johnny Knoxville as a goofy weapons expert and Luis Guzman as a bumbling deputy, but the comic relief falls flat and the villain doesn’t have much depth.
The whole point of The Last Stand is to cheer as guns are fired, cars are crashed and blood is shed — not pausing to ponder what a guy with an Austrian accent is doing as sheriff of a Mexican border town in the first place.
Rated R, 107 minutes.