Writers: Andrew Knauer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville
“You fucked up my day off!”
Arnold is back. Bigger round the waste, squishier about the edges, significantly less mobile, and struggling to keep his augmented face from sliding down between his knees. Never the less, the great man is back and still fully capable of shooting a man’s brain out of his skull from 40 paces, or running him down with a bus so he can never walk again.
He may not be as physically dynamic as he was during his prime but it seems that pumped full of enough stimulants and given enough cash he is still able to stand in a shot long enough to stumble through the same one liners he has been made to deliver throughout his career so many times he probably mumbles them while he sleeps. Just don’t expect any rigorous punching or light jogging – on this evidence it seems the big man now requires stunt doubles even to rise from a sitting position. There also seem to be signs that the demanding world of state politics has taken its toll in other ways, with a slight slur creeping into the famously incomprehensible Austrian drawl, and the noticeable time delay as Arnie responds to his cues.
All attention being focused on the return of the one tonnage sack of deflated Austrian muscle was inevitable, especially given the long wait and the fact that this is an obvious vehicle. Yet the Last Stand is also noticeable in its brave if slightly hopeful attempt to revive the daft masculine action fodder which was once the mainstay of the 80s Hollywood empire. Interestingly the task of selling this all-American chauvinism to the present generation of dour and joyless, clinically cynical office slaves falls not to Michael Bay or that talentless fraudster McG (who’s career thankfully seems to have fucked off), but to talented Korean director Kim Ji-woon, and after his breakthrough roller-coaster the Good, the Bad and the Weird, this would seems like an exciting choice.
With someone talented at the helm the photography is oddly polished and the action slickly dynamic; something which grates against a screen play someone seemingly dreamt up while asleep on the toilet. Nothing particularly memorable happens except a bizarre and implausible car chase through a corn field, but the potential for a good film with better actors and a script of basic competence is obvious. But this potential sadly counts for little given that the plot is as needlessly elaborate as it is unintelligent, especially for what is little more than a set up for an old school Western shoot out in a small town. The tortuously boring and confusing first hour drags by painfully and is made even less appealing by a ridiculously large host of two dimensional ancillary characters played by a convention of the blandest actors in the world. As these faceless chumps are increasingly sliced into fine chunks by a hail of bullets it is met not so much with a sense of tragedy but a sense of relief that there will be less plot threads to tie up when Arnie can finally be arsed getting involved.
Once the inevitable finale makes its long awaited appearance things become a little easier to enjoy. The action is relentlessly fast paced and silly and the gore is impressive in its casual brutality. Unfortunately it is too little too late after a stilted first half and the glaring lack of any acting talent (even for an action film) to keep things alive.
Everything else is easy to predict: all of the female characters are cast as sportswear models, there are far too many shots of villains trying to sound roguish, failing, and so revving their super car into top gear to make the point better than the script can. Guns are passed around like toys, the banter is awkwardly forced, and that guy from Jackass wears a range of silly hats.
It seems pointlessly pretentious even giving this a rating…