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The Last Stand - Review

The Last Stand

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

ARNOLD Schwarzenegger’s first leading action role since 2003 pretty much embodies everything that helped to make him famous in the first place.

There’s some great action, cheesy one-liners, humour to offset the violence and easy entertainment value. It’s almost like he’s never been away.

Arnie plays Ray Owens, a former big city cop now living the quiet life as sheriff of the New Mexico border town of Sommerton, whose idyllic existence (and day off) is about to be ruined by an escaped convict and ruthless drug cartel boss (Eduardo Noriega) making a break for the border.

To make matters worse, the drug dealer has a super fast car and a heavily armed group of mercenaries behind him, while Ray only has a rag-tag team of inexperienced deputies (Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander) and an ex-soldier (Rodrigo Santoro) on his side.

Directed with relish by South Korea’s Kim Jee-Woon, The Last Stand knows where its strengths lie and is quite happy playing to them.

There are nods to classic Westerns such as High Noon and Rio Bravo as well as its leading man’s own back catalogue, while the director also brings an absurdist element to the action that recalls his own hyper-intense (but brilliant) The Good, The Bad, The Weird (grannies dispensing baddies, etc).

Arnie is clearly having fun too, playing to his age where appropriate and displaying a little more vulnerability, but also dishing out the one-liners with customary relish (“you fucked up my day off” is one to make Clint Eastwood die for).

And there’s engaging support from the likes of Forest Whitaker as an FBI agent, Luis Guzman as a less than able deputy and Peter Stormare as a ruthless henchman, even if Knoxville feels a little out of place.

On the negative side, some of the gun love borders on the fetishistic (and could account for the film’s poor US showing given the sensitivity of that issue right now), while elements of the plot and script are cringe-inducingly bad (and not in a good way).

But The Last Stand has enough in its arsenal to maintain your goodwill towards it and to make this a worthwhile, well chosen comeback vehicle for its main man. It is a true guilty pleasure that provides exactly what you ought to have been expecting.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 107mins
UK Release Date: January 25, 2013