MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Stand

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A decade after his last major starring role, Arnie is back with this action tale. Is it a return to form, or a step too far?

FIN02_Last_Stand_NYCC_1Sht_ab01-610x903THE LAST STAND
Jee-Woon Kim – Director
Andrew Knauer – Screenplay and Story
Jeffrey Nachmanoff – Rewrite
George Nolfi- Writing Supervisor
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Ray Owens
Forest Whitaker – Agent John Bannister
Peter Stormare – Burrell
Eduardo Noriega – Gabriel Cortez
Luis Guzmán – Mike Figuerola
Jaimie Alexander – Sarah Torrance
Johnny Knoxville – Lewis Dinkum
Zach Gilford – Jerry Bailey

This is very much a “paint by numbers” Arnie movie: The worst drug cartel guy since Blah Blah escapes from custody, in trying to get to Mexico he has to go through TropeVille County, where Arnie’s aging Sheriff Blah Blah is the only hope…blah blah blah… And as such, this is an entertaining enough movie. Just about.

TROPE FUELED MOVIE

There isn’t a whole bunch of originality in this movie, but you shouldn’t really be expecting a whole bunch of new. This movie is made of tropes, and is fueled by clichés. On top of which, this is a Lionsgate movie, and as such it has certain budgetary and production limitations. The writing is somewhat ham-fisted, crow-barring exposition, history, and character in to a movie that doesn’t seem to want any of those elements. Of the two script-writers’ back catalogue, it is only The Day After Tomorrow is a good movie. The “writing supervisor” gave us Bourne Ultimatum, Oceans Twelve and (guilty pleasure) Timeline, but I doubt he actually had much actual input in this movie in the end.

The characters in this flick are so one dimensional that even if it was 3D-ified, they would still be flat. Everyone, the whole cast, are precisely who you would expect them to be, all firmly playing to type. On the “Good Guy” side there’s: an aging sheriff (Arnie, of course); the comedy deputy (Guzmán); the slightly goofy young deputy (Gilford); the hot female deputy (Alexander), complete with on-again-off-again boyfriend who is sleeping it off behind bars. The baddies and FBI are all similarly stereotyped. Stormare does seem to be having fun phoning it in.

REMOVES THE ACT FROM ACTION

Arnie is still rather poor; his ability to act has not been improved by years away, and his star is considerably duller. However watchable he used to be, he doesn’t have that intangible factor at work in this outing. He is visibly straining to emote, and to act, at various points in the movie. Unfortunately he’s not a whole lot better when it comes to the running and shooting, falling foul to the ravages of age. Knoxville is probably the best thing in the movie, and he is doing nothing new or different at all. Whitaker tries to bring some depth to his part, but he is defeated by dialogue. Legend Harry Dean Stanton does have a memorable appearance though, and acts everyone off the screen.

DISAPPOINTING DIRECTION

This is Jee-Woon Kim’s first American movie, and it is a disappointing debut. Having given us bonkers but enjoyable movies like Tale Of Two Sisters and The Good, The Bad, And The Weird, this is a letdown. There are few visual moments worth note. And when the camera does try to do some interesting movements, it just takes you out of the movie…and this movie cannot risk disengaging its viewers any further. The Baddie’s escape scene was perilously close to being original, but it was let down by poorly used “shakey-cam”.

A lot of this could be forgiven if there was a nice sense of humour to the movie, and some truly great action scenes…but there isn’t. There are one or two ill timed comedy exceptions, with the two biggest intentional laughs coming in the movie’s climactic shoot-out, but other than that the attempts at comedy is all very strained, flat, and ultimately quite unfunny. The action is all pretty uninspired too. There is blood and bullets aplenty, but it’s all so bloody bland. The final fight is a bit cool, being mostly wrestling and MMA based, but even it still lacks the necessary punch to get raise the bar for the rest of the movie. The best action moments come in the shape of the car scenes, with the highlight being the final corny chase scene.

BOTTOM LINE: THE LAST BLAND

So… This is not a terrible movie, it is just not quite good or fun enough to make up for how utterly average and bland it is. It is clumsily written, and acted, and directed. Reminiscent of the direct to DVD movies Stallone was doing in the late 90′s-early 00′s, this could be an acceptable B-movie, only with Arnie. It falls just short of “Guilty Pleasure” status.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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