Not gonna lie, there are moments where it looks like Schwarzenegger would rather be having The Last Sit Down. Or maybe The Last Nap.

So, on a completely random and odd note, I started this review before the latest Hollywood tidbit came thru the veins of the Cannes Film Festival "(of which I have NO idea why they would be talking about either party), but apparently Mr. Schwarzenegger is in talks to star in the remake of "The Toxic Avenger", which makes Chris a sad, sad puppy. There are very few people in showbiz that have worse comedic chops than Schwarzenegger, and I wonder what is wrong with the world every time he is cast in a comedic role. In fact, the only time I think his presence in a comedy move was ideal, and couldn't have been better with a funnier actor is in "Kindergarten Cop", where he really wasn't playing anything silly. That roll worked because he was playing an action role in a lighthearted film, perfectly cast. This, probably not so much. At least, odds are, the movie will never see the light of day, as this isn't the first time a big budget "Toxic Avenger" film has been brought up.

And now, on with our featured review.

You know what was fantastic about the 80's? Cocaine. Also brainless action movies. The two might have some connection, but I can't be sure. Looking back it seems as though a different action movie came out about once a week, especially during the dieing breaths of the Cold War. From those humble beginnings we found such actions stars as Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Guns were fired endlessly, barrels exploded without cause and cars were ramped. Life was good.

Unfortunately, time tends to march on, and those once great action heroes of my youth have gotten older. Some have taken this opportunity to tell new stories, stories exploring the finality of age, how the constant progression of life leaves even the gods of your childhood shells of what they once were. Some have embraced their golden years, choosing to make action movies more absurd and cartoonish to make up for their lack of physical prowess. Some have gotten hyper conservative and shaved their goddamn beards off and look like a goddamn weirdo now. And some haven't changed the game-plan up one iota.

Bet you can't tell which one this movie is.

In "The Last Stand" Arnold Schwarzenegger plays small town sheriff Ray Owens who finds himself as the only thing standing between an escaped drug lord and the Mexican boarder. It also has Johnny Knoxville in it. If that doesn't make you squirm ever so much, then you are a bad person and I don't think I want to know you.

The movie was directed by Korean filmmaker Jee-Woon Kim who made some of my favorite Korean films ("A Tale of Two Sisters", "A Bittersweet Life", "The Good, The Bad, and The Weird"), under normal circumstances he is an incredible filmmaker, but coming into America he suffers the same fate that every Asian seems to fall into, terrible action movies. Much like Jet Li in "Lethal Weapon 4"  or Stephen Chow with "Dragonball: Evolution" or Jackie Chan with every American made Jackie Chan movie, Asian people can't seem to catch a break in American cinema. Hell even John Woo had to make "Broken Arrow" and "Face/Off" before he could make "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Life of Pi". I guess producers see Asian people and just think of fight scenes. Who knows.

Gonna be honest: I'm thinking violence right now too.

Anyway, point is, I like the guy who directed this, he is a seriously talented filmmaker. I still remember the time I showed one of my friends an imported copy of "A Tale of Two Sisters" way back when, and leaving him seriously weirded out. This movie doesn't weird anyone out. In fact this movie lacks any real directorial charm. Anyone could have made this movie, there is nothing creative in it, it looks to have been directed by a computer. I am curious to check out Kim's next film, just to see if this was the source material or if he has lost a step in the last few years. My guess is the material but still...

I had started this review with a discussion of how various action stars have come to grips with age. In my opinion, which is totally right by the way, most have done it with grace. Apparently Schwarzenegger has not heard the term grace, or at least is unaware of it's meanings. Sure we get the casual aside of "I'm getting to old for this" in the film, but that is the only evidence that anyone involved in the making of the movie knew that they were dealing with an almost 66 year old man. Now I am not saying he should be driving around in a rascal smacking thugs with a cane, but when you see a man old enough for Medicare dead lift a full grown man with one arm, things tend to take a turn toward the unbelievable.


Imagine if, in "Rocky Balboa" we see Sylvester Stallone talking about how he is getting old, but has to believe in himself and his inner strength for the whole move, we see people telling him he is too old and will die, we build this whole story about redemption and believing in yourself, and in the final climatic fight, he just smashes some guy's face over and over and wins without any problems at all. Kinda pointless, huh? You'd feel cheated out of a decent storyline wouldn't you? Seeing Arnold fight people in this feels like that time Ric Flair fought in a Ladder match a few years back, sad, and scary, and then stupid when you realized they weren't going to make his age a factor.

As I said before, as action stars age, they have changed the rules of the game to fit what their strengths are. Stallone has a knack for playing the underdog, so his films tend to have him facing old age and all of its trappings head on, not blinking. We feel for him because we know one day we will face our mortality, and hope that when the time comes we will have the guts to do the same.  Jean Claude Van Damme made "JVCD" which was a poignant and wonderfully made movie reflecting the mistakes he has made in his life and the people he has hurt. We see a man and the end of his career wishing he had done things differently. That's humanity. That's art. Bruce Willis turned into a cartoon, rather than facing his mortality, which makes sense, he has always been sly, always self-aware. There is no doubt in my mind that in the next Die Hard movie John McClane will punch a car into a jet. We forget about how old Willis is getting because he has left the realm of reality, no one cares how old Micky Mouse is, and so it is with the wisecracking cop from New York. Chuck Norris turned into an asshole. And shaved. A shaved asshole. (Sigh)

In "The Last Stand" Schwarzenegger plays the role of small town sheriff exactly the same as if he had the role in the 80's, he jumps thru windows, off buildings, crashes cars and shoots guns, all while looking like a cross between a tired old man and a tired old man who looked into the Ark of the Covenant. I can't bring myself to care too much about a man who can fight people a third of his age with no problems whatsoever. Or get shot and stabbed and not limp. In "The Last Stand" Arnold is playing a god, but the only problem is, "Hercules in New York" was a hell of a long time ago. In the end, you are left with a fun, entertaining action movie that really shouldn't have had Schwarzenegger in it. Had they went with Jason Stathem or Vin Desel or the Rock, this could have been an awesome throwback to 80's excess, with sequel after sequel following, what we have instead is an old man in a flashy car. Until Schwarzenegger remembers his mortality I fear we have lost one of the great 80's action stars.

Can I recommend "The Last Stand"? Of course I can, despite feeling ripped off by the fact that Grandpa Simpson was in the main role, the film is fun and wonderfully over the top. Hell at one point someone manages to smuggle in a giant electromagnet, like the kind that they use at junkyards, to break someone out of jail. I'm not joking, it just sort of appears without warning.

Kind of like this...actually exactly like this.

The film has plot holes big enough to drive aforementioned electromagnet thru (seriously, if this guy could afford an electromagnet, why not buy a fucking plane and fly to Mexico?) And at no point does it think that you are smarter than a five year old, but that is OK. When you get down to it, "Total Recall" had the same problems, and that is still fun to watch. My only real beef with the film is that nagging feeling that things could have been that much better with either different casting, or by simply making the movie about an older sheriff making one last stand before he knows his time is up. See that movie, by playing things slightly differently your title could have had two meanings. We call that shit being deep. You can feel free to remake the movie and use that. I'm giving that to you.

Rating B-

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