The Last Stand ✮1/2
by Glenn Lovell
“I’ll be baaack!” has become “Oh, my aching back!”
Yes, it was bound to happen: What was once your standard macho posturing has, with time, morphed into retirement-circuit one-liners.
In “The Last Stand,” his first starring role in a decade, Arnold Schwarzenegger pretty much plays his age (65), complaining about arthritic joints, relying on granny specs to keep up with the plot … doling out fatherly advice to snot-nosed deputies young enough to be his grand-kids.
But still Arnie gets the job done, this time as Ray Owens, a former L.A. narcotics cop who, wearying of life in the asphalt jungle, has retired to an Arizona border town. As the avuncular sheriff in sensible shoes, he rides herd on drunks and scofflaws.
Of course it’s never wise to underestimate Arnie when he’s billed above the title. He has a way of evening the odds. Which he does when a Mexican drug lord escapes FBI custody and makes for the border in a supersonic Corvette. Standing between the cartel boss and freedom is the piss-ant town of Sommerton, Arnie’s town.
Basically a spaghetti Western outfitted with assault rifles and rocket-launchers, “Last Stand” should satisfy the Schwarzenegger faithful. It’s action-packed, boasts a couple of fun car chases (featuring Chevy’s modified Corvette RZ1), and surrounds the star with a decent supporting cast that includes Forest Whitaker as the inept FBI chief, Eduardo Noriega as the speed-demon cartel boss, Luis Guzmán and Johnny Knoxville as deputies, and Harry Dean Stanton in the latest of his corpse-cameo roles.
The director of record is South Korea’s Kim Jee-woon, best known for the grisly and clever “I Saw the Devil.” Kim doesn’t speak English (the credits include a screenplay translator). But that doesn’t matter because the dialogue, which runs from “My honor is not for sale” to “Cover me, boys!” was made up as they went along; Kim’s job was to orchestrate the various ambushes and shootouts. And this he does with enviable aplomb.
Knoxville’s loony gives a shout-out to the beleaguered NRA members in the crowd. His local-yokel runs a weapons museum, which includes a vintage machine gun, a.k.a. “my little Nazi killer.” When the sheriff flashes him a look, Knoxville acknowledges that it’s not exactly legal. “Between us and Jesus,” he smiles sheepishly. “Uncle Sam don’t need to know nothing about it.”
And who says Arnie has quit politics?
THE LAST STAND ✮1/2 With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eduardo Noriega, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzmán, Forest Whitaker. Directed by Kim Jee-woon; scripted by Andrew Knauer. 107 min. Rated R (for violence, profanity, plenty of the red stuff)