Last Stand: Schwarzenegger Is Back

After spending a decade or so in politics, and occupting headline news with his private life, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the most popular action star of the 1980s and 1990s, makes a comeback to the big screen in the violent actioner, “The Last Stand,” representing the American debut of the gifted Korean director Kim Jee-woon.

The tale’s generic title aside, “The Last Stand” has two things in its favor. First, a part that specifically tailored to Schwarzenegger’s specifications, both strengths and weaknesses. And second, an inventive director, who does not follow Hollywood’s by-the-book rules.

There are not many actioners around, now that “Gangster Squad” has opened and failed commercially, so it would be interesting to see whether Schwarzenegger is still bankable as an action icon, who can carry a picture on his broad shoulders.

Schwarzenegger plays Sheriff Ray Owens who, after leaving his LAPD narcotics post, a result of a bungled operation that left him with remorse and regret, moves out of Los Angeles. He settles into a routine and boring in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction.

However, he and we know that it’s a matter of time he goes back into what he does best: fight crime—big time. Opportunity knocks, when the town’s peaceful existence is shattered by Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), the notorious drug kingpin, who makes an escape from an FBI prisoner convoy.

As is often the case, Cortez does not operate alone. Assisted by a fierce band of lawless mercenaries led Burrell (Peter Stormare), Cortez begins racing towards the US-Mexico border in a specially-outfitted Corvette ZR1, with a hostage in tow. Cortez heads straight through Summerton Junction, where the U.S. law enforcement, including Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker), must intercept him before the violent fugitive disappears across the border.

Schwarzenegger plays a formulaic role that Clint Eastwood, at his prime as an action icon, could have done in his sleep—the reluctant (anti)hero, who initially refuses to get involved, not to mention the pubic perception of him as an inept (too old?) small-town enforcer.

Rest of the tale is predictable and conventional to a fault, in describing how Owens ultimately rallies his team and takes the matter into his own hands, setting the stage for a big, anticipated showdown.

Scripted by Andrew Knauer, “Last Stand” marks the U.S. directorial debut of Korean action director KIM Jee-woon, best known for helming “I Saw Devil,” “A Tale Of Two Sisters,” and ; “The Good, the Bad, the Weird.”