The Last Stand (review)

The Last Stand red light Jaimie Alexander Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’m “biast” (pro): have enjoyed Arnie’s heroic schtick in the past

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

This Arnold Schwarzenegger guy, who totters around this clunky excuse for an action flick in apparent geriatric pain, shoulda stuck his day job (he is the former governor of California). The grimaces of what I can only assume is his arthritis flaring up in the running-around and shooting-up sequences are uncomfortable to watch; the painfully obvious stunt double in the preposterous climactic hand-to-hand fight scene is inexcusable; but mostly he’s just a stilted actor who cannot bring the slightest hint of plausibility to the awkward exposition the terrible script dumps all over the viewer. I know, I know: it’s just a dumb mindless action movie, so none of that should matter. But the action is pretty unforgivably dumb and mindless, too, and with nary a hint of wit or humor about it. Schwarzenegger (The Expendables 2) is Sheriff Owens of a tiny, sleepy Nevada border town and a former Los Angeles narcotics cop, which we learn when one of his deputies likens something not even remotely similar to “like when you worked narcotics in L.A.” during the slow, sleepy ramp up to the alleged excitement. This will consist of an escaped Mexican cartel drug lord (Eduardo Noriega) in a stolen high-performance sportscar racing through town to get to the temporary bridge his hired army — headed up by Peter Stormare (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) — is erecting over the ravine to Mexico just outside town. Korean director Kim Jee-woon shoots much of the film as if it were a sexytime autoporn advertisement for the car the escapee is driving; perhaps we’re meant to see him as way cool? (Did I mention he was on death row? Such a noble sort of anti-hero!) And then there’s the gunporn: Johnny Knoxville’s (Fun Size) embarrassing town clown is hoarding weapons under a dubious interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is naturally a good thing, because you never know when an escaped death-row Mexican cartel drug lord is going to breeze into town. This is also why, the film lets us know, grannies should be armed at all times. If I thought it was all making fun, in a bleak, black way, of America’s love of guns, I’d feel better about it. But it isn’t.

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