If Arnold Schwarzenegger retired from acting with 'The Last Stand' rather than returned from his political career with it, the title would add an extra post-modern kick to a film already full of intertextual allusions. It would have been a lot better than leaving us with 'Collateral Damage' for ten years too.
Arnie plays a former LAPD narcotics detective now taking it easy as the sheriff of a sleepy town in Arizona. The only thing that could ruin his day off would be the escape of a drug cartel boss trying to drive through his town to the safety of Mexico. And what are the chances of that? So after Forest Whitaker's FBI team lets Eduardo Noriega slip through their fingers, Arnie's crack team of small-town cops, including an underutilised Jaimie Alexander, go to war against the cartel goons, disembowelling the scenery with machine-guns in the process.
There's a lot to like in 'The Last Stand'. Not the plot, which is just a thinly-veiled series of excuses to get things to blow up. Or the characters, who are all resiliently monochrome. Or the acting for that matter, with Arnie giving us a performance as nuanced and expressive as the back-end of a pantomime horse. But the wit and invention of director Kim Ji-woon is in full flow, and his refreshing subversions of action movie tropes are a lot of fun.
The ostentation of standard "lock 'n' load" montages that have been ubiquitous since the 80s is deflated with a scene of an old, tired Schwarzenegger slowly loading a single pistol and holstering it. Setting a car chase in a cornfield ensures that neither Arnie nor Noriega can see any more of what's going on than the viewer, producing some great tension. Best known for the paralyzingly creepy horror 'A Tale Of Two Sisters', 'The Last Stand' seems like an odd choice for Kim's Western debut, but to bring us these dissident scenes displays an interest and knowledge of action movies that vindicates his decision.
It's a shame that no one else feels inspired to shake things up, and even Kim Ji-yong, a talented cinematographer whose previous work includes the underrated 'Silenced', allows himself to be trapped into the thoughtless 'orange and teal' convention. I'd like to suggest that producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura is responsible for most of the mediocrity - his production filmography reads like a Razzies nomination list, and even if he's not entirely to blame here we'd still be on the right side of karma.
lf you're in the market for a mindless action movie then I can understand why 'The Last Stand' would look appealing, but honestly you'd be a lot better off watching some classic Schwarzenegger, like 'Predator' or 'Commando'. If you're an action fan though, you've already seen all the classic Schwarzenegger, you already know the traditions, and that's where 'The Last Stand', with its well-observed irony, shows its imagination.
DVD EXTRAS:- Not in My Town: The Making of 'The Last Stand'
- Cornfield Chaos: Scene Breakdown
- The Dinkum Firearm and Historic Weaponry Museum
- Actor-Can Anarchy with Johnny Knoxville and Jamie Alexander
- Deleted scenes
- Extended scenes
'The Last Stand' is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray at amazon.co.uk etc.