Sunday, June 16, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Last Stand (2013) *½

R, 107 min.
Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Writer: Andrew Knauer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro, Peter Stormare, Luis Guzmán, Eduardo Noriega, Genesis Rodriguez, Zach Gilford, Christiana Leucas, Harry Dean Stanton

This isn’t exactly a Father’s Day movie, but it is a movie I would’ve watched with my father, and he would’ve enjoyed it much more than I did by myself. It’s what he called “a Smith & Wesson commercial.” That’s a movie you watch just to see a lot of shooting and explosions. In that sense, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this movie. It’s silly, but it gets the job done in terms of gratuitous violence.

One of Roger Ebert’s earliest rules to his Glossary of Movie Terms was the Walsh-Stanton rule, which stated that any movie with a performance by either M. Emmet Walsh or Harry Dean Stanton couldn’t be all bad. Of course, that rule only considers performances that are somewhat significant in their supporting nature. If Walsh or Stanton dies within five minutes of appearing on screen, I think the rule is void. Such is the case with “The Last Stand”. And, Luis Guzmán, while generally entertaining, certainly can’t act as a replacement for Walsh or Stanton.

Well, I spoiled that for you; but I doubt I could spoil much more of this paint by numbers plot. It involves the escape from federal custody of a major drug cartel leader, who drives a really fast car to the US/Mexico boarder. The car is too fast for any helicopters to pursue it, although they don’t seem to have too much trouble until the plot requires them to. Apparently the FBI can’t contact the Boarder Patrol for help. You know, two government agencies working in tandem just isn’t possible with all the red tape. So, it is up to Ahnold, a small town sheriff who is no slouch due to a stint on the L.A. vice squad, to stop the resourceful criminal from escaping to Mexico.

This is Schwarzenegger’s big return to a leading role after his political life. It’s not really a bad vehicle for Schwazenegger, it just isn’t one of the best. I suppose it fills the gap that Dwayne Johnson seems more willing to ignore than Ahnold of the solo action vehicle. Hopefully, Schwarzenegger will find better vehicles for his niche, for it is nice to seem him in action again.

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