'The Last Stand' review: A tolerably creaky comeback

The Last Stand (movie)MoviesEntertainmentForest WhitakerEduardo NoriegaFBIJohnny Knoxville

**1/2 (out of four)

Attempting to revive both parts of the term "Old West," "The Last Stand" stars 65-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger as a small-town Arizona sheriff who, needless to say, don't take no crap from nobody.

Stepping up even though it's his day off (of course it is), Sheriff Owens (Schwarzenegger) and his unimpressive team (Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander and Evanston native Zach Gilford) investigate extremely conspicuous truckers including Burrell (Peter Stormare), who literally thinks bigger guns make things more entertaining. Not far away in Vegas, cartel boss Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) daringly escapes FBI custody, taking one agent (Genesis Rodriguez of "Casa De Mi Padre") hostage and leaving another (Forest Whitaker) grumbling/over-acting as Cortez speeds toward Owens' town, where the fugitive will attempt to cross into Mexico.

Not including that bizarre collective dream we all had where Schwarzenegger was governor of California, "The Last Stand" is the actor's biggest role since 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," and both the man and the material struggle to shake off the dust. Few action movie moments are as underwhelming as a weak one-liner, and "I'm the sheriff" and "Welcome to Sommerton" are the equivalent of a shrug. None of first-time writer Andrew Knauer's script does any favors for the performances, whose quality has an inverse relationship to the time each actor spends on screen.

Director Jee-Woon Kim ("I Saw The Devil") has a few snazzy moves; most of the movie's best moments involve Cortez's even snazzier maneuvers with the faster-than-a-chopper Corvette ZR-1, whose sales would drastically increase if anyone who sees "The Last Stand" could afford it. No matter the quantity of bullets or the size of the firepower, however--Johnny Knoxville co-stars as a goofy historic weapons museum curator who longs to be a deputy--the numerous shootouts and indulgent splatters of blood become as monotonous and weirdly easy to dismiss as the warning Owens gives to indifferent diner patrons before Cortez comes to town.

Owens wants them to flee before something terrible happens to them. In the mildly amusing, kinda exciting "The Last Stand," nothing good nor terrible has happened to Schwarzenegger, who's weathered much worse on screen and off. Yet his latest only reminds us that a movie winking at its hero's age is only fun when we can root for an unlikely burst of energy without worrying about the big guy breathing too heavily to deliver his lines.

 

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