After seeing Jee-woon Kim’s I saw the Devil, I was looking forward to seeing more of his projects. I went out and found The Good, the Bad, the Weird and enjoyed that. So, needless to say, when I saw the trailer for The Last Stand my interest was piqued. I was expecting something as crazy and intense as his other work and couldn’t wait to see what The Last Stand had to offer. Sadly, the movie was a big disappointment.
The Last Stand follows Gabriel Cortez, a Mexican drug lord, who elaborately escapes from federal custody during his transport from a courthouse to prison. This transport is handled by the FBI, headed by Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker). Once free from custody, Cortez jumps into a suped-up Corvette and heads towards Mexico. During this time a small Arizona border town finds a local milk farmer dead and stumbles upon a military force constructing a bridge for Cortez to use to cross back into Mexico. In order to get to this bridge Cortez will have to travel through this quaint town known as Summerton Junction.
Luckily for Summerton Junction their sheriff, Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger), worked in Los Angeles fighting gangs and drug dealers. Owens is the type of guy who won’t sacrifice his honor or integrity for anything. He learns Cortez will make it to his town before any help from the government can arrive so he decides to take a last stand (see what I did there?!) against Cortez. Owens’ deputies agree to assist him and they even corral the support of a lunatic arms dealer (Johnny Knoxville) who agrees to supply them with all of the firepower they need in exchange for a badge.
Now, as you would imagine, a battle goes down between Cortez’s minions and the rag-tag sheriff’s department, all leading to a climactic finale. This all sounds well and good, but the movie never really delivers on what the trailer seemed to promise. One would expect at the hands of Jee-won Kim that the action would be absurd and over the top and the violence would be hysterically gory. There were a few small moments that had the Kim flare, but the movie felt very much like his talents and ideas were squandered.
The pace of the film seemed slow at times and the acting felt very forced and flat. This is even more surprising because the film was littered with established actors and recognizable faces. Overall the movie seems like it wanted to be an over-the-top bad-action film, but ended up taking itself too seriously. This may have been the result of a controlling studio not wanting to glorify violence, Schwarzenegger not wanting to get dirty or perhaps Chevrolet wanting to keep a glorified Corvette/Camaro commercial in good taste.
This movie is not without its cool fast-car-action scenes, cool squibs and cheesy plot devices, they just weren’t on the forefront of this movie, and for that it seems to have flopped. If you plan to check out this one, I would do it via Redbox and hope that Jee-woon Kim will go back to being himself.