Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: The Last Stand

Copyright: Lionsgate
The biggest difference between this movie and previous ‘’classic 80s’’ action films Arnold Schwarzenegger made is its director Kim Jee-Woon. Interestingly, his modern outlook made a crucial difference, and gave The Last Stand a subtle, but important feel that came from a person new to the standard Hollywood action scene. His talent became well known in the West after the incredibly creepy I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boatda), and it’s no surprise that the American producers came knocking.

Of course, Jee-Woon’s presence has been cast in the shadow of a larger Hollywood figure, fresh out of a government job in California. This film was Schwarzenegger big comeback feature, not counting a few came appearances and The Expendables 2, where he had to share the spotlight with other childhood heroes to many of us born a few decades ago. Here, he has all the attention to himself, although he is constantly surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast, ranging from Oscars winners (Forest Whitaker) to comedy relief characters played by Johnny Knoxville and the incredible Luis Guzmán, who is so natural as a scared, hesitant small town deputy that he doesn’t even look like he’s acting. Even the legendary Harry Dean Stanton has a small role as a tough farmer.

The plot is simple: a cartel crime lord and racer genius (these outrageous personality profiles were once regular occurrences in action films) makes a daring escape from FBI custody and is intended on reaching the Mexican border. He travels in a modified Corvette that is faster than a helicopter, and his point of exit from US territory is a border town called Sommerton Junction, where his crew began to prepare the ground for a clean crossing. Unfortunately for them, the local sheriff isn’t a pushover (and you can guess who is playing him).

Schwarzenegger pulls all the stops in this fast-paced film, accompanied by corny one-liners and unnecessary fistfights we used to love so much. He can still pull of this kind of a role, and his age didn't diminish his potential for kicking ass, and neither did his heavy accent became any less entertaining. Jee-Woon uses him in the right amount, and grants other characters enough breathing time so the movie never transforms into Schwarzeneggersville (or Schwarzeneggerfest). In the meantime, some actions scenes, like the car chase in a ripe corn field were set up and shot flawlessly, and these kinds of small, original ideas give the movie a more unique frame than, let's say, Bullet to the Head. This doesn't mean that Jee-Woon doesn't enjoy a good RPG strike on a car, the use of an elephant gun or even a presence of a Vickers machine gun, straight from the trenches of the Great war.

The Last Stand isn’t just a blast from the action past. This movie is entertaining, fun and light on the brain cells, without being an insult to them. Schwarzenegger is obviously back, and I have to admit it, I kind of missed him.