January 18, 2013 The Last Stand
Studio: Lionsgate Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language.
The head of a Mexican drug cartel escapes from capture in Las Vegas and makes a run for the border. He's got a hostage and he's driving a muscle car that can hit 200 miles an hour.
His path is set to take him right through a small town in Arizona. That's where former L.A. cop Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has settled in as his career winds to a close.
Owens gets word from the federal agent in charge of the case (Forest Whitaker) that trouble is headed his way. However, instead of stepping to the side and letting someone else handle it, the career lawman stiffens his neck and promises that Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) will not succeed.
But Cortez and his hoods have the small-town cops outgunned. The sheriff needs help, so he enlists the aid of local gun collector Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) to help even the odds.
That sets the stage for a showdown on main street between the sheriff and the bad guy.
This is Schwarzenegger's first major movie role in a decade and he has returned to star in a bare bones, no frill pedal to the medal action story. It goes from point a to point b in a fairly straight line and doesn't stop to apologize for utilizing a well-worn formula. Despite its familiarity, the story works as a pretty entertaining tale. As you would expect, Schwarzenegger carries the film, but he gets plenty of help from a likable supporting cast which in addition to Knoxville and Whitaker, features Luis Guzman and Jaimie Alexander as two of the sheriff's deputies.
Director Kim Ji-Woon makes his American debut here and he smartly plays up the strengths of his star. Yes, Arnold is 65 and no longer the unstoppable terminator that he once was, but he incorporates his age into the character and it makes him all the more believable.
Over the top action, a heaping helping of bloody gunplay, some pretty funny one liners and shots of Arnold mowing down bad guys before a final confrontation with main villain is a formula that I really enjoyed. Welcome back, Arnold, we've missed you.
It's not fancy and there aren't many surprises, but I enjoyed it. On my rating scale, "The Last Stand" earns a TRIPLE.
TWO AND A HALF MEN Tonight at 7:00 PM It Never Rains in Hooterville
After realizing that Jake's childhood is almost over, Alan makes a last-minute try at father-son bonding; Kandi embarks on a new career