Near the beginning of the movie the head lawman of the sleepy border town of Summerton Junction, Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold), says, “Should be a quiet weekend.” Of course whenever Arnold, or any eighties action star says, “Should be a quiet weekend,” you know all hell is about to break loose. And break loose it does.
In a parallel story ruthless drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) stages an elaborate escape and heads for the Mexican border, which just happens to lie outside Arnold’s… er… Owens’s town. As Cortez speeds toward the border he has a quick cell phone call with Owens. “Do you wanna play?,” he yells. “Let’s play!” And play they do… with big guns.
“The Last Stand” opens with a shot of a cop eating a donut. It’s the first cliché of the film, but it’s not the last.
From the snarling bad guy (actually guys, Peter Stormare is evil as well, yelling, “Bring me THE GUN!” several times), to Arnold’s one-liners, to the bumbling country deputies, the movie is exactly what you think it is going to be. It has an enjoyable simplicity, anchored by Arnold’s no-nonsense performance. Like the non-CGI actioners “Jack Reacher” and “Bullet to the Head,” it’s a Saturday matinee romp that doesn’t make much sense—despite having wild high tech equipment the FBI can’t seem to locate a Corvette speeding through the desert in broad daylight—but is a fun throwback to the years when Arnold was the king of the screen.
He’s moving noticeably slower these days—How are you Sheriff? “Old,” he says.—but his comic timing is still there and no one else can battle through this kind of cheesefest and emerge with his action cred intact.
“The Last Stand” is not a movie to be taken seriously, but it wasn’t made to be taken seriously. Why else would cult director Jee-woon Kim cast Johnny Knoxville?