The Last Stand: Yes, He’s Really Back!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen for his first leading role since Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  The former Governator has been seen in a cameo role in Expendables and then had a part in Expendables 2, but this marks his official return as the star of an action film. 

In The Last Stand, Schwarzenegger plays Ray Owens, a small-town sheriff who used to be a LAPD narcotics officer, but after an unexplained incident, was forced to leave the department. He is now content with the fact that it’s always quiet and there is really no crime in his sleepy border town of Sommerton Junction.

He has three deputies working for him, but that seems like three too many in this era of budget cuts and fiscal responsibility. The local football team has a championship away game, and nearly everyone in town has left to watch it, so the town is practically deserted. 

The only place open is the local café, where a couple of the regulars seem just to hang out all day.  The sheriff welcomes the opportunity to spend a relaxing day off, but is left feeling uneasy after meeting some suspicious-looking truckers at the cafe. 

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, FBI Agent John Bannister (Forrest Whitaker) and his men are transporting the notorious drug cartel kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) in a convoy to prison.

Suffice it to say that in this type of movie, drug cartels always have incredible resources and incredible escape plans. The FBI convoy is hit, and the drug lord escapes and manages to take FBI Agent Ellen Richards (Genesis Rodriguez) hostage. 

Cortez’s men have stolen a customized Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 from the LA auto show, and Cortez, who once raced cars professionally, plans to drive to the border at top speed and cross into Mexico.

The FBI has blocked off the most obvious routes to Mexico, but Cortez, of course, is not about to take an obvious route. He is planning to drive through Sommerton Junction, in spite of the wide cliff that separates the town from the border with Mexico.

Sheriff Owens realizes what Cortez is planning, and with his small force, including the newly deputized, gun-crazy, town nut job Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville), he plans to make a last-ditch stand before Cortez attempts his border crossing.

The movie has many funny moments between the eruptions of violence. At one point, Schwarzenegger falls through the second floor of the café, and the locals, unfazed, ask him: “Are you OK there?” Schwarzenegger, always ready with a one-liner, responds, “I am getting too old for this,” in his best Austrian accent. 

The Last Stand has lots of gun violence and some laughs. If you can suspend disbelief and accept the premise that someone can just drive to Mexico and get away with it, this movie can make an entertaining evening.