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After leaving his LAPD narcotics post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with remorse and regret, Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) moved out of Los Angeles and settled into a life fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town of Sommerton Junction. But that peaceful existence is shattered when Gabriel Cortez (Noriega), the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the western hemisphere, makes a deadly yet spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy. With the help of a fierce band of lawless mercenaries led by the icy Burrell (Peter Stormare), Cortez begins racing towards the US-Mexico border at 250 mph in a specially-outfitted Corvette ZR1 with a hostage in tow. Cortez' path: straight through Summerton Junction, where the whole of the U.S. law enforcement, including Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) will have their final opportunity to intercept him before the violent fugitive slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately rallies his team and takes the matter into his own hands, setting the stage for a classic showdown. (From Lionsgate’s official synopsis).

Last Stand, The
He said he’d be back and since we started to see Arnie's over the shoulder grin again in The Expendables, we’ve known that another headlining role had to be on the way. Like many guys and gals of my age (though mainly the guys) I love Arnie movies. I would argue the greatness of pretty much every single one of his flicks on (outside of Junior which I have never warmed to) and even post True Lies, the era where Arnie films started to slide, his on screen charisma and pure Schwarzenegger-ness was always enough to make everything he did at watchable even if they never had the re-watchability of his greats. So here we are with The Last Stand. Arnie is officially back and after this, my second viewing, I have to say, it was a pretty solid first step back for the big guy.

First up it has to be said, this modern day western of bad men running through a good town is really only half an Arnie movie. One half of The Last Stand is a high octane car chase, shot with all the thrills of most modern Playstation and Xbox racers, with a rather conventional FBI chase down trying to bring in the mega criminal behind the wheel.  The other half is the Summerton Junction based Arnie stuff - let’s not quibble with character names – Arnie hasn’t played a character since Dutch in Predator – he’s always a variation of ‘Arnie’ and we love it.

Anyway, here we get a pretty solid Arnie performance as an old ex-LAPD cop and seeing Arnie all old and sheriffy has the star leave behind the larger than life Charlton Heston-esq approach to his characters of old and shifts gear to a more wizened and refined Clint Eastwood type performance. Thankfully, Arnie doesn’t go down the Stallone route, playing an action hero that still blows up stuff and goes through hell without even popping a hip in the process, he plays it old. Ray Owens is a tired laid back Arnie, a good and friendly sheriff in a good and friendly town. His supporting cast all their for comic relief to cover the lighter side of this story but even that is never really enough to taunt Arnie back into one liner city and the failings of the paint by numbers Arnie movies that hit with a thud just before his Governor break ( Eraser, Sixth Day etc).

Last Stand, The
Of course The Last Stand isn’t perfect, it’s fairly typical of the genre and Kim Ji-Woon really only delivers a slightly above average final result but for me it’s having Arnie front and centre that makes this something more, which has always been the case for most of his filmography to be honest. This one certainly deserved more of a turn out at the box office but then the ‘action movie’ as we knew it in the 80s/90s is all but dead in the cinema anyway – replaced by superheroes and such, so The Last Stand really ended up being a water test for if the Arnie crowd were still willing to show up and sadly it seems they weren't.  It’s not surprise that a day or two after The Last Stand’s weak box office opening that Schwarzenegger confirmed he’d be involved with Terminator 5. A big headline like that can soon sink the “Arnie bombs and the box office” vibe that started to rear up but that’s no reason to pass The Last Stand by.

Fans of Arnie should get a kick out of this one. Yeah he’s looking old, the fights have become less about running around and fighting and more about body mass used to wrestle people to the ground but he’s set a tone with this one. He’s back, he’s older but he can still stop the bad guys in pure awesome Arnie ways. Line this one up against the latest Die Hard (urggghh) or The Expendables and it feels more of an acceptable role for the older action hero to play and unlike Bruce Willis, Arnie at least seems to be trying in his films. He also still seems to want to entertain the masses, rather than a focused crowd of fans like Stallone seems happy with at the moment. Arnold Schwarzenegger still has the charm and screen presence we all fell in love with him for. His age (and his acting limitations) is against him but what’s I’ve seen here is enough to convince me he’s good to go for the upcoming King Conan ( Terminator 5 is a bigger concern depending on his level of involvement) and I’m hoping the momentum builds up in his next few projects (which all look pretty cool).

As a side note, I’d love to see Arnie take some chances now. Get in somewhere we just wouldn’t expect to see him. A Wes Anderson movie or something quirky like that. I can’t wait to see Schwarzenegger do more and once we’ve passed this initial run of nostalgia type roles for his action routes, where Arnie goes next is interesting stuff…

Last Stand, The

Video


It seems like ages since I sat down and watched a DVD. Blu-ray or HD TV have all but taken over the standard definition in my life and it was quite daunting seeing the reduced quality in such a modern film. The DVD presentation is of course bright and colour boosted to all hell but without the power of HD behind it all there's a district softness to edges. Skin tones are all warm and tanned (Arnie looks a bit fake tanned actually) and the majority of the film being set outside is a good thing for the naturalness of the film's good looks, even if the green screen finale shows up pretty badly as a special effect.

The first half of the film is loaded with darker elements and they look okay, with only a slight grubby look to them but the blasts of gunfire or car headlights glow out of the screen very well. Also the FBI based scenes are a good blue tinted counter to the yellow and orange glow of the small town. Overall, the image is clean, has a far level of detail but given the limitations of DVD it's very easy to see the failing of this rather average looking presentation.

Last Stand, The

Audio


This is an action flick at the core and I'm glad to report that the booms and thumps of bass in the car chases and gunfights all hit with precision. There's a fair bit of layering to the pretty typical score, with multiple beats filling out the track with a bit of depth and the clear central dialogue sounds warm and strong in the quieter moments as well. There's a noticeable jump in volume between smaller dialogue moments that explode into action, which can be a little annoying at times but outside of that this is a pretty standard action movie affair in the audio department.

Last Stand, The

Extras


'Not In My Town: the making of The Last Stand' (27:03)is a good old fashion look at the film with plenty of talking head interviews and footage from the set.

'Cornfield Chaos: Scene Breakdown' (10:54) focuses in on the film's finale, or at least the drive to it. 'The Dinklim Firearm & Historic Weaponry Museum Tour' (10:54) is a look around one of the film's sets and 'Actor-Cam Anarky with Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander' (10:08) is a walk around set and meet and greet with the the crew.

Lastly there's six deleted scenes and seven extended scenes making this a disc that feels like what the standard DVD used to deliver before extra features seemed to thin out.

Last Stand, The

Overall


Schwarzenegger doesn't quite live up to expectations with The Last Stand but this is way better than the poor box office results and awful straight to DVD type cover art implies. Arnie's totally back but this feels a little like a "I'm John Kimble. And I love my car" as opposed to full blown "Get to da chopper!!"

The disc has a fine splattering of extras and a fair good standard definition presentation that constantly reminds you that all of its highlights would look so much better in HD.


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