He's back... and also playing an all-American sheriff named Ray Owens.
This was Arnold's big comeback movie, coming hot on the heels of an extended hiatus thanks to being the Governator for two terms. When it was announced that he'd returning to movies, people started to laugh. "He's too old," they said. "He's past his prime," they said. "He must be hard up for money," they said. The first trailers for The Last Stand didn't really help either. It looked fairly generic and rote, the same kind of shlock he was pumping out near the end of his first run of flicks.
Everyone was wrong, though, because The Last Stand kicks some serious ass. And, actually? It's one of my favorite movies of his, period.
Everything about the entire affair is tongue-and-cheek and over-the-top in the best way possible. The fact that the famously accented Austrian musclehead is playing a US-born, small-town cop just adds to the ridiculousness of it all. This is a role that feels obviously designed for a more gruff, more "American," more "rural" sort of actor, but instead? We have this overbearingly goofy actor hamming it up at every chance he gets, turning what could have been a boring and subtly racist "gruff American versus tricky Hispanic man" role into a silly, fun, bravura kind of thing.
And yeah, there is a plot to this movie. See, this drug lord/race car driver breaks out of FBI custody, hops into a Corvette, then starts making a break for the border, which he plans to cross by jumping over a fucking canyon. Anyway. Said canyon is next to the tiny Arizona town Arnold oversees, meaning that the drug lord will be speeding through it. The FBI recruits Arnold to stop him, and along the way, the bad guy's goons come into town, raise hell and blow shit up. Cue explosions, shootouts, and cool stunts. Also one liners.
That's about it, really.
Yeah, no, the plot here isn't particularly great, but that's not what makes The Last Stand work so well. No, this is a good movie because it's fully committed to its own brand of stupidity. Bad guy plans to jump a car over a canyon? Sure. Arnold teams up with Johnny Knoxville in an aviator cap? Yeah, okay. A climactic car chase that takes place inside of a corn field? Go for it. The action, the comedy, the plot points... all of them are jarringly stupid, but really, it feels like everyone involved knew damn good and well that they weren't making high art. The result is a pulpy, campy, stupid movie that's a non-stop rush of adrenaline from start to finish, comparable to something like Crank. And all of the little references to all of Arnold's old movies are just an extra bit of irreverence on top of the whole stupid cake.
I barely have anything else to say on top of that, really. Which is weird, considering how much I like this movie, but there's only so many ways you can say "this is stupid fun, go watch it." So... The Last Stand is stupid fun. Go watch it.
Next Time: Schwarzenegger and Stallone, together in a movie that isn't an overcrowded ensemble flick, work together to make an Escape Plan!