The Last Stand is an old-school Schwarzenegger film

The Last Stand is an old-school Schwarzenegger film

The Last Stand

2 stars (out of four)
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand

Although Arnold Schwarzenegger has made cameo appearances in a number of films over the past decade, “The Last Stand” marks the former California governor’s reappearance as a marquis star. But audiences were not enthusiastic during the movie’s theatrical run.

This week’s home video release may help Schwarzenegger recover, but only if viewers are willing to look past “The Last Stand’s” ludicrous plot, campy acting and senior citizen action hero. In other words, this is an old-school Schwarzenegger film made worse by the fact that its star is the oldest pupil in class.

In fairness, it’s still fun to watch Schwarzenegger recite lines in his thick Austrian accent, but only for a little while. He’s never been a great actor, and he has always been best in films that capitalize on his impressive physique and rugged demeanor without demanding subtlety. Thus, James Cameron’s “Terminator” movies are a treat, while pictures like “Conan the Barbarian” are best viewed as guilty pleasures.

In “The Last Stand,” director Jee-woon Kim (“A Tale of Two Sisters”) paints Schwarzenegger as a vulnerable hero. The actor plays Ray Owens, an aging police officer who, having seen too much bloodshed in Los Angeles, becomes sheriff of a small Arizona town. Accordingly, his new life is quiet… until a dangerous Mexican drug lord (Gabriel Cortez) escapes from U.S. custody and decides to pass through his jurisdiction on the way to the border.

Ray’s small department, which includes three deputies (Luis Guzman, Zach Gilford and Jaimie Alexander), isn’t prepared for such a big case, but they refuse to stand down. So, Ray deputizes a couple locals (Johnny Knoxville and Rodrigo Santoro) and forms a plan to bring the fugitive to justice.

Everything about the plotting – from the drug lord’s escape to the movie’s climactic showdown – is ridiculous. The Andrew Knauer screenplay contains jokes about Schwarzenegger’s age, and Kim plays up the fact that his star isn’t the fine physical specimen of days gone by. Of course, all these physical limitations are forgotten when Ray is asked to do something spectacular.

The R-rated movie is loaded with gunplay and bloody violence, which is what many people expect from a Schwarzenegger film. Arnold mugs for the camera, shoots things and spouts one-liners. The trouble is, this formula played itself out 10 years ago, when one could actually believe the man had superhuman strength. For a true reboot, Schwarzenegger needs a script that does more than celebrate past glories.

DVD and Blu-ray extras include deleted and alternate scenes and several making-of featurettes.

By Forrest Hartman

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