Arnold Schwarzenegger, at least cinematically, has done nothing of value in the 21st century. Don't let that scare you away from "The Last Stand."
It's an unabashedly goofy film, which embraces rather than settles for an excess of genre conventions. It doesn't have a high degree of difficulty but sure sticks the landing -- pretty much all you should expect from an Ahnolldd flick.
Anchoring a movie for the first time in nearly a decade, the 65-year-old Schwarzenegger plays a retired Los Angeles cop turned small-town sheriff looking to escape a life of carnage. But when a drug-dealing race car driver (you read that correctly), escapes from the FBI, Arnold and his deputies are the lone barrier between the kingpin and the Mexican border.
Sure, a Mexican cartel leader and his Corvette ZR1 that reaches speeds of more than 200 miles can escape an FBI convoy. But what about the Governator?
|'The Last Stand'|
|3 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville and Peter Stormare|
|Director: Kim Jee-Woon|
|Rated: R for strong bloody violence throughout and language|
|Running time: 107 minutes|
South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. He lets Arnold be Arnold -- albeit with much less ease in dispensing of baddies -- and plugs in Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville for comedic relief. Throw in Forest Whitaker as the FBI agent who underestimates Arnold and his merry band of misfits and Peter Stormare as the henchman with a full repertoire of wisecracks, and you have a compelling, if conventional, cast of characters.
The most obvious test facing the movie was whether Arnold could still play an action hero without looking more primed for the geriatric unit. He pulls glass out of his leg, shatters his car window just so he can unload some rounds and breaks a bunch of stuff for no particular reason. If this sounds remotely appealing, you won't be disappointed.
Wisely, Kim embraces his hero's age, casting him as a world-weary sheriff who only reluctantly returns to the bullet-ridden days of his past. It's the type of thing Clint Eastwood has been doing effectively for the last two decades.
They aren't any one-liners on par with "Terminator"-era Arnold or even something as brazenly ridiculous as "Get to the choppa," but there are plenty of golden nuggets here.
In the cinematic doldrums of the year known as January, you could do a lot worse than mindless fun. By that standard, Schwarzenegger is indeed back.