The Last Stand

Fri, Jan 25, 2013, 00:00

Directed by Kim Ji-Woon. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro, Luis Guzmán, Jaimie Alexander, Eduardo Noriega, Peter Stormare, Zach Gilford, Génesis Rodríguez 15A cert, gen release, 107 mins

“How are you, sheriff?” ask a gombeen collective of townspeople as Arnold Schwarzenegger comes flying through a storefront window. “Old,” Arnold replies in his uniquely Austrian All-American drawl.

Are you ready to accept Arnold Schwarzenegger into your heart as your personal movie saviour? Again? It’s a tough call.

We have, by now, grown accustomed to Arnold playing Governator of California. We’ve watched him tackle power shortages and tour chat shows as the best-selling author of Confessions of An Arse-Hat Husband.

The Last Stand, one feels, finally restores some kind of cosmic order in the movieverse. Schwarzenegger is 65 and every one-liner now reads “I’m old”, but this is prime Arnold material. The delivery is deadpan and familiarly robotic; the physique is superhero as illustrated by Tom of Finland, just older and more congealed.

We should note that Mr Schwarzenegger is playing the unlikely human sheriff of an unlikely border town, the unlikely route for a jail-breaking Mexican drug lord (Eduardo Noriega, fun), his minxy FBI hostage (Génesis Rodríguez) and the menacing Union of Latino Character Actors. More accurately, this is film of action composed entirely from action set-pieces and loud noises, a symphony of zoom, vroom and boom.

The unlikely mayhem facilitator is South Korean Kim Ji-Woon, who directed the brilliant and properly grown up A Tale of Two Sisters. The heightened world of The Last Stand maintains the same unhinged, high-octane collision course as Kim’s mad noodle western, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, with a special emphasis on the weird.

This is a cartoon in live action guise: tenderfoot deputies (Luis Guzmán, Zach Gilford, Jaimie Alexander) are joined by local a gun nut (Jackass’s Johnny Knoxville) and Alexander’s jailbird ex (Rodrigo Santoro) to take on the bad guys in true Wacky Races style. Leading them in battle is Fantastic Four’s The Thing, a huge hunk of molten moving rock . . . no, wait, that’s Arnold.

The results are surprisingly good fun, popcorn-friendly, and awfully redolent of Rio Bravo. Fine by us. He’s back, alright.

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