Schwarzenegger fans jonesing for a by-the-numbers “Arnold” shoot ‘em up thriller, will get their fix with “The Last Stand” – a reimagining of “Vanishing Point” (’71) meets “Rio Bravo” (’59) on steroids.
The Governator stars as Ray Ownes, the Sheriff of Sommerton Junction, a Mayberry type Arizona border town full of Goobers and Thelma Lous, which becomes the crossing point into Mexico for an escape route for cartel leader Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) and his heavily-armed henchmen.
Wait a minute! Before we get wound up on the storyline, let’s first establish the fact that logically the film’s premise doesn’t make any sense. Cortez escapes from federal agents led by John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) and makes for the border in a souped-up Corvette that breaks through every police roadblock. There’s no explanation of why the police didn’t use Stop Sticks to puncture the Vett’s tires.
But Schwarzenegger films aren’t about logic. They’re not even acting. They’re about how much shit can Arnold blow up in 90 minutes or less, leaving the audience drained and totally satisfied. “The Last Stand” more than satisfies, because the real star of the film is an endless stream of bullets and explosions.
Whitaker, an excellent actor who doesn’t have much to do in the film, except grit his teeth and get pissed off for 90 minutes at Schwarzenegger and his Barney Fife deputies (Luis Guzman, Zach Gilford, Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro) and the local gun nut (Johnny Knoxville)) for not following his directives.
“The Last Stand” offers plenty of quips and one-liners punctuated with buckets of blood, which makes the film a little uneven. How so? Because at times it doesn’t know whether it's a thriller or an action-comedy. But at the end of the day, it’s Schwarzenegger, it’s a popcorn movie and energetic fun. What more do you want in the dead of winter?