26 January 2013 | davideo-2
A bit mangled, but a decent enough return to film for Schwarzenegger
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) oversees the law in the sleepy American town of Summerton, resigning to a quiet life after becoming fazed by the brutality of more hard line policing. But all that looks set to change when notorious drug lord Eduardo Noriega (Gabriel Cortez), who is scheduled for death row, breaks free from custody in Las Vegas and comes hurtling in a fast sports car towards Summerton to rendezvous with right hand man Burrell (Peter Stormare.) In a battle of odds with FBI Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker), who is hot on the trail of Noriega, Owens takes a stand with his deputies to stand firm and protect their little town.
After a ten year absence, during which it seemed unlikely he would ever return to acting, it's easy to appreciate the void Arnold Schwarzenegger left in the world of action cinema, and indeed cinema in general, and for sheer nostalgia to overwhelm your opinion of this new film of his. The Last Stand, unwittingly, could make you hark for his films of old and want to re live the sheer, unmistakable magic you could only get from an Arnold film all over again. Hell, the length could even make you forget that his last few films before he became 'the Governator' were of mediocre quality at best, or even make you think they weren't so bad after all. It is surprising, and certainly very nice, to see him back on the big screen again. And, while The Last Stand is certainly not without it's qualities, there are some big flaws that stop it from being a mesmerizing come back.
While he seems to have exhausted himself with his own self publicizing, with certainly a few TV/magazine interviews in the UK prior to the film's release, it's weird how little publicity the film itself seems to have received (I didn't even see a trailer before going to see it.) It's hailed as Arnie's big new come back, with him prominently headlined as the main star, but it's strange how little screen time the big man seems to occupy, especially in the first half. For a short while, it sort of becomes the Forest Whitaker show, as the big prison bus escape unfolds. Not a good thing, when you think he's already drowning in a sea of co stars, including Stormare, Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville as the town's resident, er, jackass.
He seems to have a slower, more gentle, considered presence here, his scenes giving the film the same feel one of Clint Eastwood's more modern films would have. Given his age, I think this is for the best, as the thought of him on wires or using stunt doubles wouldn't be very good. The main problem the film has is it seems unsure of it's tone, whether it wants to be a solid, compelling action drama or more like one of Arnold's more wackier, wise cracking earlier films. Rather than turning to more modern, flashy directors like Jee-Woon Kim, it would be interesting to see how Arnold himself might prove, directing one of his own films, in the style his old mate Clint does. ***