Despite the incessant action movie stereotypes, repetitious dialogue, and insanely dull antagonists, Arnold Schwarzenegger wades through much of the film’s monotony to deliver his legendary one-liners and showcase an undeniable talent (or an uncanny endurance) for the genre. It’s nothing exceptional and it’s certainly not new, but at least there’s some fun to be had. When the supporting cast and their excessive comedy relief finally backs off, the adventure manages to incorporate several detonative sequences that offer a glimmer of the entertaining spectacle that populated much of Schwarzenegger’s earlier work. It’s a shame so many elements of the film are working against the iconic star, and perhaps more so that the hulking Austrian didn’t opt for something slightly more ambitious for his long awaited return to the big screen.
The sleepy little town of Sommerton, Arizona (with a jail boasting only a single cell) is about to get the surprise of a lifetime when ruthless cartel boss Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escapes from FBI custody and plans to cross the border into Mexico by way of the city. But what Cortez and his cohorts haven’t planned on is Sommerton’s tough-as-nails sheriff, Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger). When Owens learns from FBI agent Bannister (Forest Whitaker) of the crime lord’s intentions, the indomitable sheriff determines not to let him pass through his town without a fight. Gathering up deputies Figuerola (Luis Guzman) and Sarah (Jaime Alexander), plus ex-military rebel Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) and eccentric gun enthusiast Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville), Ray must lead his ragtag band of soldiers in a ferocious battle for the fate of the borough.
As usual, Arnold Schwarzenegger is mildly entertaining, even as he’s getting up there in age and can’t perform (or convincingly appear in) the stunts or fight sequences that his films used to be peppered with. At least the massive firepower and uncommon heavy artillery are included for the explosions, shootouts, bloodshed, and other eye-candy violence that action movie buffs anticipate. There are also plenty of one-liners lobbed about, most effectively (and preposterously) by Schwarzenegger.
That’s also part of the major problem with “The Last Stand.” None of it can be taken seriously because of the overabundance of comic relief. It’s bad enough that the lead character spouts his own adventitious affronts; it’s nearly unwatchable to witness Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, Christiana Leucas, Zach Gilford, Titos Menchaca, Arron Shiver, all four of the regulars in the diner, and a handful of other roles all pausing the plot to provide their own seconds of fizzling humor. It’s perhaps the worst supporting cast of all time, adding not only foundering gags but also the most generic character development – along the lines of the “Scary Movie” franchise, save for the intentionality. Much of the story can be predicted fifteen minutes before it happens, including top tier law enforcement’s absolute ineptness, drawn-out deaths, betrayals, rescues, and the seriously outgunned, outmanned, and out-brained novices accidentally outshining the antagonists. And if that wasn’t enough to overshadow Arnold’s comeback to starring roles (after a 10-year hiatus), nearly one-third of “The Last Stand” is a car commercial for Chevrolet’s Corvette ZR1 (during one particularly shameless scene, an FBI helicopter pilot identifies the villain’s getaway vehicle by confirming its “cyber gray metallic” finish), the Chevy Camaro and oddly the antediluvian Hummer H2 (possessed by both the SWAT team and the cartel thugs).
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)