Sunday, 3 February 2013

Review: The Last Stand

Rating: 15
Duration: 107 mins

For anyone who's read his recent autobiography entitled Total Recall, you'll notice instead of highlighting aspects of adultery or failure, the insightful musings inform readers what a shrewd and intelligent business man Arnold Schwarzenegger was and still is today.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was the big man's last starring role almost a decade ago, and, on the face of it, Jee-woon Kim's whimsy modern western is in many ways the perfect vehicle for the former Governor's resurgence. 

The Last Stand is a blend of gratuitous violence reminiscent of the 80s and 90s action hero Arnie once was, but also -- subversively or not -- expresses a topical approach to gun control that won't sit comfortably with everyone. For fans, this is a welcomed return for Schwarzenegger because it offers up everything synonymous with the Austrian: one liners, brute force, physical presence, violence, guns, a no frills plot; clear cut heroes and villains; and general badassery. And in this respect, The Last Stand works well; Arnie plays the Sheriff of an Americana town, as he aims to take down the hilariously accented, brilliantly generic villain, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), whose escape route to the boarder runs through Sheriff Ray Owens' (Schwarzenegger) stomping ground.

There's a lot of awkwardly delivered, cheesy dialogue, but within the context of the film and considering its star, it's completely aware if its traits, thus justifies its construction. The cleverness here is that The Last Stand is packaged to accommodate Arnold who, let's face it, will never compete for a role against Daniel Day-Lewis, but can offer a nostalgic, muscle-bound presence much like Stallone and Willis do, and this is exactly the right comeback role for him, especially for an actor in his mid 60s.

The joy of this is its simplicity.  Its old school formula, frivolous nature and resistance from veering into Die Hard 4.0 territory prevents this actioner from encumbering itself in total ridicule, proving an effective platform for Schwarzenegger's big screen return -- a sensible choice considering his acting ability (or lack of). By no means deep or particularly memorable, it is, however, an entertaining, carefree romp at the cinema.