The Last Stand

tn_thelaststandWith THE LAST STAND, Arnold Schwarzenegger officially kicks off his Old Man Period, sort of following the Clint Eastwood precedent. And I’m all for it. Alot of people love nothing more than shaming actors, especially action stars, for failing to conquer time and science, and instead succumbing to the biological changes that occur as a result of human aging. They love jokes about John McClane on a walker or Rambo wearing Depends. Ha ha, I bet when you were Mr. Universe you never guessed that your cells would change in tandem with the passage of time and you would end up with a different physicality that would lead to new health challenges! Serves ya right, grandpa! (And when I say “grandpa” I use it in the sense of “old men are the worst thing there is” and not in reference to my actual grandfather, who we call “Pa-Pa.”)

Of course, real fans of Badass Cinema put Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood on a pedestal. We know that a mug with some miles on it always trumps a babyface. Grizzled veteran beats young hotshot in pretty much all cases except maybe Bruce Lee. So we welcome Old Man Arnold.

In THE LAST STAND it’s just an acknowledgment that he’s aged, it’s not a theme of the movie like Clint’s IN THE LINE OF FIRE or BLOODWORK. He plays Ray, who enjoys being sheriff of quiet Sommerton, Arizona after an action-packed career in L.A. that he left after a big shooting incident. That’s not a theme either, just something we hear about in a Just How Badass Is He? speech by Forest Whitaker.

Old Man Arnold is still a muscle man and a skilled user of many guns. I think the difference is he can get knocked down and then when he gets back up he groans a little. Also he wears boat shoes in one part. Otherwise he has the same powers as Young Arnold. He could still take most people. The only reason this villain has a shot is because he knows Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But that would’ve worked on Conan too. Barbarians didn’t know the counter moves to that shit.

mp_thelaststandThe plot is like a western. An outlaw (Mexican druglord Cortez, played by Eduardo Noriega) has busted out and is headed for the border. The marshall (FBI agent John Bannister, played by Forest Whitaker) who’s after him calls ahead to warn the sheriff what might be headed his way. The town is mostly empty (big football weekend) so the sheriff takes his three deputies (Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzman, Zach Gilford) and deputizes two more (jailed war vet Rodrigo Santoro, “funny” gun collector Johnny Knoxville) and tries to block off access to the border. But first the outlaw’s men come to town and shoot everybody, the townspeople get involved, etc.

Always a worthy set up, but it’s the touches of modern ridiculousness that I like best. Cortez’s initial escape involves a giant magnet. His getaway vehicle is a super-powered Corvette stolen from an auto show that goes so fast it’s mistaken for a low flying jet. We learn that in addition to being a cartel leader he is an experienced race car driver. There is a semi truck with a bulldozer attachment used to clear a roadblock for him.

Luckily Schwarzenegger’s jokes in THE EXPENDABLES 2 were so bad that the broad comedy in this one is semi-forgivable. There was one guy out of the 7 in my theater who thought it was hilarious when an old lady wearing a bonnet pulled out a shotgun. Get it? Because old ladies aren’t supposed to have shotguns, that’s why it’s funny. The unexpected and what not. Kind of an homage to that lady from POLICE ACADEMY 4 I guess.

I like Johnny Knoxville, and I don’t remember him being terrible in The Rock’s version of WALKING TALL, but here the whole joke is that he wears funny hats and pajama pants and loves shooting giant guns. At some points it seems like he’s maybe supposed to be mildly retarded, but probly not. It’s kind of an inopportune time to try to bring back the ’80s “people loving giant guns is hilarious!” thing, but it comes off as more dumb than offensive. And I guess it leads to some decent shoot outs. The over-the-topness of the action (Ray’s PREDATOR style helicopter gun in the back of a schoolbus) is most of the appeal.

For the most part the tone is what I look for in a non-TERMINATOR Arnold movie: purposely ludicrous but straight-faced. I like the part where Ray and Cortez are in a Camaro and a Corvette, hidden in a cornfield and can’t see that they’re only a few feet from each other. Ray starts driving very slowly, like he’s tip-toeing. Later he drives slowly again, with a prisoner chained up to the back, just like if he was riding a horse.

In one scene it almost seems like the villain is gonna have a sex-scene-during-high-speed-chase, which might’ve been the first since Adam Rifkin’s THE CHASE, but it doesn’t happen. Instead there’s the traditional villain-mistreats-his-woman-to-show-how-evil-he-is, which complements the aforementioned Just How Badass Is He? scene.

My favorite supporting character is Peter Stormare as Burrell, Cortez’s right hand man who comes into town and kills a bunch of people to prepare for his boss’s arrival. What I love is that he talks in his usual thick accent but I’m pretty sure he’s trying to play a redneck. He wears cowboy clothes and I swear there are a couple points where he’s attempting some sort of drawl. Good shit.

There’s an appearance by Harrry Dean Stanton (FIRE DOWN BELOW), possibly playing the same character from THE AVENGERS. The best cameo has gotta be Sonny Landham, but I didn’t even realize it was him at the time. If you see it, I guess he’s the asshole who has his car parked in the fire zone at the beginning. [UPDATE: Or that's what somebody said. Where is he? He's supposedly in there somewhere.]

The climactic fight is pretty good, despite too many closeups and obvious green screened background. I don’ t know, I like the idea of these two all by themselves in the location where they are, and of Arnold really having to use his brute strength on the guy, not just guns.

I still like seeing Schwarzenegger on screen, and he seems more invested here than in his EXPENDABLES appearances, but I hope he has better characters still in him. He does pretty good, but not a Clint level of humanity or a younger Arnold level of badass iconography. He’s part way there, I think. I have faith in him. In fact this is kind of a step up for him in my opinion. I know he’s been away from movies during his governorhood, but if you look at what he was doing beforehand, this is better than most of them. I’d say it’s probly more fun than ERASER, definitely way better than COLLATERAL DAMAGE. I don’t even remember if I’ve seen THE SIXTH DAY, so I’ll have to abstain on that one. And it’s probly not fair to include BATMAN AND ROBIN. TERMINATOR 3 I like better but this has the advantage of not having to live up to the real TERMINATOR movies.

On the other hand it’s a big step down for the director, Kim Je-Woon. After loving I SAW THE DEVIL and BITTERSWEET LIFE I had high hopes for him working with Schwarzenegger. I figured this wouldn’t have the emotional and thematic heft of his South Korean work (it definitely doesn’t), but I hoped he’d be able to bring Hollywood his pure cinematism. Those movies have crisp, clear action sequences, strong atmosphere, and they make the pretty boy actor Byung-hun Lee into a classic stoic asskicker. If Jee-Woon could’ve applied that style of action to this movie, that type of characterization to Arnold, and that quality of visuals to the Arizona desert, this could’ve been a spectacular movie. But it doesn’t seem like he was able to translate much of his talent to the Hollywood filmmaking system. I don’t think I could’ve guessed from this movie that the director had made anything great before. I think maybe this is his BROKEN ARROW.

For that reason maybe it’s for the best that this thing pathetically opened in ninth place at the U.S. box office, three slots below a found footage farting ghost comedy in its second week. At first this was disappointing news to an action fan that still thinks of Schwarzenegger as one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and who would like to see him keep making different types of movies and working with interesting directors, not just making unwanted TERMINATOR sequels. But if the trade off is that Jee-Woon will keep making great movies in Korea and not wasting his time here than there will be a plus side to the deal. Plus, Arnold’s already got a couple other ones in the can. The fuckers can’t pull the plug on him yet. He’ll be back.

.

(That is a reference to the movie THE TERMINATOR starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, also he used the line in like 4 or 5 other movies also, that is why I said that line at the end.)

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at 9:13 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

94 Responses to “The Last Stand”

  1. Yeah, this was a lot of fun. Not great, just fun. I think Arnold has some great work left in him. With his Expenda-cameos and now this, I think he is just taking baby steps back into the game before he starts in on more Conan and Terminator movies.

  2. That’s who Sonny Landham played? I read in the IMDB trivia that he was in it but I thought his scenes got cut. I never would have guessed.

    I had a great time with this one. Light entertainment that doesn’t skimp on the hard action, exactly what Arnold was made for. It had my favorite kind of action climax, where there are lots of good little character-based action vignettes in the big showdown instead of one massive explosion. I even enjoyed the broad comedy, because it wasn’t coming from Arnold himself. He was the straight man, not the comic relief. He works better that way, I think. It’s something it’s taken him 20 years to learn, so let’s hope he doesn’t forget it again.

    Anyway, welcome back, big guy. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed you.

  3. Hey, Vern, I’m pretty sure Knoxville’s character is a high-functioning autistic dude. If he wasn’t going for that intentionally then he lucked out and portrayed it unintentionally because my son is mildly autistic and acts a lot like Johnny does in this movie.

  4. Thought it was a lot of fun too and enjoyed the fact that it’s tone could have very easily made it a PG-13 movie with some editing, but it maintained an R sensibility with the level of violence. I think there was at least 3 instances of bullets going through cheeks.
    I also liked the ensemble of it too, and particularly the war vet played by Santoro. It may be becoming a bit of a 21st century cliche, but the Iraq/Afghanistan War Veteran thing at least gives us a plausible reason for younger actors to be capable action heroes(though Santoro is actually 37).

  5. caruso_stalker217

    January 26th, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I already mentioned this in the Schwarzenegger thread, but it this thing had had a running time of 79 minutes it would have been perfect. As it is, I think there are just too many dull patches. I think it would have benefited big time from a shorter length.

    Also, I thought for a moment they were going to have a low-speed car chase in the cornfield, but then they started driving fast again and I was disappointed.

    Overall, I thought it was a very middle-of-the-road film that didn’t really give me any action boners. Kinda forgettable, unfortunately. I’m hoping the other two Arnold films coming out this year will be more satisfying.

  6. I felt this movie was just barely okay, I think it’s failure is because it’s not very good, I hope Arnold gets his act together and makes some good ones soon. Also, I think Johnny Knoxville just kind of always seems a little simple, and he was terrible in The Rock’s “Walking Tall.” Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson never had stupid sidekicks, Clint Eastwood did have Clyde, but I liked that hairy assed ape better than ol’ jackass.

  7. Q: Why Arnold in The Last Stand?
    A: Because Abe Vigoda wasn’t available.

    Arnold’s problem is he’s well-cemented in the action hero mold, but doesn’t have any solid acting chops to fall back on. He’s no Liam Neeson. I think he should go balls-out and try something completely different. One need only look as far as his recent costar’s crowning achievement as a thespian:

    Johnny Knoxville’s brilliant interpretation of the joy, pathos, followed by more joy, segueing into slightly less pathos, [hold the onions], and sheer perseverance that was Jeffy Dahmer lit a beacon of hope for mental boyz across the globe. Who’s to say Arnold can’t take a crash course in imbecility under Knoxville?— a budding Brando retard to JK’s Stella Adler. It’d be like Lenny from Of Mice And Men meets… a big, lunky aging Austrian bodybuilder ‘n’ stuff. Plus it’s his only chance at an Oscar, provided he doesn’t go full-retard. I’m all for it.

  8. Never go full retard

  9. The important question is did this tank because it sucks or because people don’t like Arnold anymore because he cheated on Maria and fathered an illegitimate child?

    This is the first Arnold movie I haven’t seen on or before opening weekend since probably PREDATOR. When I’m finished writing about The Sun Dance I may take myself to see it before its on video.

    Vern, you remember THE CHASE too? That was my favorite movie for a few months in 1994 before PULP FICTION blew my mind. Watched it a few years ago and just about nothing works in it. Kids is kids though, right?

  10. I read some article that said there’s no way to know whether Schwarzenegger’s cheating scandal was the reason for the movie’s poor opening. Until I read that I had honestly forgotten about it and it didn’t occur to me that anyone cared. I think it’s more likely that kids today just don’t want to see that type of action movie, they want to see half second clips of a camera shaking around while a handsome young man in a metal and rubber suit shoots magic beams at a cgi robot. But they’ll learn eventually or die off.

  11. Broken Arrow. Oh no. HALE’S LOST IT! I’M PUNCHING OUT!

  12. I guess similar scandals never hurt Woody Allen, Julia Roberts or Steven Saegal. Most likely, being away from movies for 10 years, the target audience doesn’t even know who Arnold is anymore. Stallone’s still doing it though. He brought his old characters back though, and came up with a cross promotional ensemble to adapt. Guess we’ll see how BULLET TO THE HEAD does with Stallone solo. I bet not well, but I’m still game.

  13. well, he DID always tell us he’d be back

    anyway, I will give this movie props for at least being R rated, there’s something to be said for an action movie unafraid to be violent in an era where increasingly the only R rated thing you see in movies is potty mouth language

    so I might give it a shot once it hits the ole HD laserdisc

  14. Vern- well one friend of mine who I raved about it to said that that scandal and Arnold “bankrupting an entire state” was a bit of a turn off for him, and that he sort of felt that “once a celebrity embarrasses themselves like that publicly, they should just go away”. I argued otherwise, pointing out RDJ’s whole troubles with drugs, but with that he said he felt bad for the guy, so sympathy plays a factor, I guess.

  15. “The important question is did this tank because it sucks or because people don’t like Arnold anymore because he cheated on Maria and fathered an illegitimate child?”

    RE:

    Word Of Mouth never really sets in during the first weekend. It might lead to larger Saturday and Sunday drops, but the opening weekend is more of a testament to how interesting the film looks like, how good the marketing is, how good is the star-power, etc.

    The awful opening for The Last Stand mainly means that audience didn’t think the film seemed interesting/good enough to see on the big screen. And they were more or less right: The movie might be good for what it is, but in this day and age, it looked really generic and more like something you rent from a video store.

  16. Action movies these days need to be more high-concept, or more dramatically compelling.

    In the marketing, The Last Stand merely promised a really generic story premise, generic looking action, and Arnie. That’s not enough for the big screen, most audiences will check this out on DVD.

  17. Verhoeven doing CONAN? Well, that’d be just super.

  18. It seems like movie studios don’t know how to market anything other than the big, over the top, special effects blockbuster. Even if a movie turns out to be great, the trailer almost never gets me excited. I’m very rarely sold by movie previews these days. Either it is because I’ve seen too many and I know the formula, or the art of actually selling a movie has been lost. The previews for The Last Stand didn’t do that great of a job telling us why we should care about this particular story. And Johnny Knoxville’s character looked like he was going to be really annoying. I mean, look at that post for The Last Stand. That looks less like the poster for a balls to the wall action film than to some ironic b-movie. The tone of the marketing campaign seems all over the place.

  19. “It seems like movie studios don’t know how to market anything other than the big, over the top, special effects blockbuster. Even if a movie turns out to be great, the trailer almost never gets me excited. I’m very rarely sold by movie previews these days. Either it is because I’ve seen too many and I know the formula, or the art of actually selling a movie has been lost. The previews for The Last Stand didn’t do that great of a job telling us why we should care about this particular story. And Johnny Knoxville’s character looked like he was going to be really annoying. I mean, look at that post for The Last Stand. That looks less like the poster for a balls to the wall action film than to some ironic b-movie. The tone of the marketing campaign seems all over the place”.

    RE: Maybe the movie is partially to blame? It’s hard to make a remarkable trailer out of a film which has no remarkable elements to it.

    Granted, I think they could have done a slightly better marketing campaign. But I don’t think they need over the top special effects to sell a film. Look at Dark Zero Thirty and Django Unchained. Both are actiony films that doing very well at the current box office. Both had strong marketing campaigns (And great reviews). The action-oriented Gangster Squad is also doing well, because it has a stellar cast and a cool period feel. Both of which make it more novel and appealing than The Last Stand.

  20. It’s possible that I’m making an over generalization. It’s also possible that The Last Stand simply wasn’t a good enough film to sell. But of all the movies you mentioned, only Django Unchained had a trailer that made me genuinely excited to see the film. I was interested in ZD30 because of the real life story it was attempting to tell, but the trailer did very little to get me into the theater. Of course, a lot of this is personal preference. In addition to Django Unchained, I would also cite The Raid’s red band trailer as being a great advertisement for that movie. And of course, the greatest trailer of all time might be for the original Alien.

  21. Pretty sure that Sonny Landham popped up as a henchman somewhere. Happened quickly but it may have been the night scene when Stormare and his guys were building the bridge. There’s no way he was that guy who parked in the fire zone. That guy was Latino!

  22. The problem isn’t so much that The Last Stand wasn’t *good* enough, it just wasn’t *interesting* enough. There wasn’t anything distinctive about the film, and even the biggest stars have trouble opening a film which just looks completely generic.

    I definitely think that trailers in this day and age are MUCH better than they have ever been before. Almost every trailer made before 1995 looks cheesy and pathetic, when you watch it now. It’s an artform that didn’t really peak before the 00′s.

    Films with impressive visuals of course always have an edge. Just last year, Prometheus, Man Of Steel, Dark Knight Rising and Skyfall had some phenomenal marketing.

  23. Speaking of Sonny Landham, I just learned that he directed a movie called BILLY LONE BEAR in 1996. He plays the title character, a cop hiding from the IRA (?) on an Indian reservation. It costars Charles Napier, Frank Stallone, and Brion James. IMDB says the tagline is “The most erotic action-adventure film you’ve ever seen!”

    It automatically leapt to the top of my gotta-see list. Naturally, I can’t find it anywhere.

    How am I supposed to go on living knowing BILLY LONE BEAR is out there somewhere and I can’t watch it? I guess ignorance really is bliss.

  24. Maybe I was getting a little ahead of myself condemning the art of trailers. Most likely I’m looking at the past through rose colored glasses. But still, I don’t necessarily think that whether or not a movie itself is good is a barrier to making an effective ad campaign. Even if there wasn’t much of a hook in The Last Stand, it’s the job of the marketing team to come up with something that will get people in the theater. Just like I’ve seen bad previews for good movies, I’ve also seen some effective previews for bad movies.

  25. Well, if anyone can confirm that’s not Sonny Landham I’ll correct it. Like I said I didn’t notice him at the time, but I later read that was the character he played, and when I saw more recent pictures of him like this one:

    http://www.indecisionforever.com/files/2008/07/sonnylandham.jpg

    I thought that was I remember that character looking like. I looked for his name on the credits and didn’t see it, but IMDb says he plays “Henry.”

  26. I think they might be right, Vern. IMDB has a character credited as “Mayor” played by a guy named Titos Menchacha, who looks like this:

    http://www.crystalacids.com/database/images/titos_menchaca_full.jpg

    I think that’s probably the schmuck with the Camaro.

    The search for Sonny continues…

  27. Oh, and speaking of corrections, yeah, Arnold was driving a Camaro, not a Corvette. You could see the logo pretty clearly in the few shots. I’m not a car guy (haven’t owned one in over a decade) but I liked that it was two foreign-born dudes engaging in the Battle of the American Muscle Cars.

  28. I agree with those of you who are questioning the marketing of this. While it’s yet to be determined if Bullet to the Head will fare any better, I think they’ve been doing a better job of advertising it with the whole “it’s not a Stallone movie without guns, punching and explosions” tag line (paraphrased) which has been on some of the trailers. They seemed to be afraid of touting this as Arnold’s return to action form. They probably would have been more successful with a trailer showing a bunch of action shots and the simple “he is back”. Sure, we’re all sick of that joke with Arnold, but this was probably the most opportune time to use it.

  29. The Original... Paul

    January 27th, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Wow… sometimes I seriously wonder if I see the same movies as you guys. Can’t believe the amount of criticism that this film is getting. Vern, I’m curious – did you see this film in an empty cinema?

    This one opened to an absolutely packed screening over here in the UK, and pretty much everybody in the audience loved it. Myself included. It’s just a goofy fun film that has no pretensions than to entertain the hell out of you, and it does exactly what it needs to. Easily on the level of “Dredd 3D”. The entire audience burst out laughing at the flare gun scene. Like I said, this was the exact opposite of “Prometheus”, where the audience started out invested but became more and more hostile as the film went on. In “The Last Stand” the audience started out not quite sure what to expect, and then grew more and more positive.

    I had mild problems with Knoxville on occasions, but he’s barely in this one, and when he IS in it, his schtick never gets too annoying. Honestly I think they’d have been better keeping his role as an unexpected cameo and touting Arnie, Forrest Whittaker and Luis Guzman in the marketing instead.

  30. I saw this mid-day at a theater in downtown Chicago and there was only one other person at the showing. So I guess the rumors of this flopping at the box office are true. More as the story develops…

    I agree that it was good, not great. Too bad they didn’t go for a slightly more realistic tone and play up the age bit some more. I think it would’ve been better if the sheriff were just an ordinary man standing up for what was right rather than a semi-retired badass getting back in the game. Maybe Arnold can’t play a regular joe. I guess I can always go watch COP LAND.

    The villain was kinda unmemorable. Was Oscar Isaacs too busy shooting that Coen Bros. movie to play this role? Oh well.

  31. I’m with you Paul. I thought this was a really good film. Not Arnie’s best, but easily his best since True Lies. As a film I thought it was better constructed and more adroit than the Expendables.

    The marketing was for shit, but I firmly blame the Johnny Knoxville factor for underpreformance at the box office: see Dukes of Hazzard (How do you fuck up THAT brand), Walking Tall, Movie 43, Lords of Dogtown. Hell, pretty much anything outside Jackass has been a BO failure for that guy. Moral of the story… If you’re going to have Johnny Knoxville in the trailer, have someone throwing shit at him.

    Also, totally didn’t grok Sonny Landham. That’s awesome.

  32. “Easily on the level of “Dredd 3D”.”

    Damn. I was going to see this at a matinee tomorrow. Now I’m not so sure. Please…anyone here, tell me it’s better than that piece of shit.

  33. odo19, if you think DREDD’s shit, then you should stay at home – forever.

  34. It must be the marketing because I am the world’s biggest Arnold fan and I cannot get motivated to see this. Didn’t sound exciting from the premise. I guess the idea that the bad guy sends people ahead so there’s some action before the end helps. I’ll get to it eventually but if I’m not first in line, that’s a problem.

  35. Shouldn’t we just be glad he’s not a politician anymore?

  36. From what I understand Arnie was quite a moderate republican that sought sometimes to cooperate with democrats in certain issues. If anything the republicans need more people like him.

  37. ““The most erotic action-adventure film you’ve ever seen!””

    erotic? fucking lol, there need to be more erotic action movies, for real

    anyway I agree that trailers have gotten a whole lot better in this day and age, with all due respect to Don Lafontaine (RIP) movies trailers got better when they dropped the whole “in a world…..one man can make a difference” cliches and instead tried to convey the movie through editing and music

    I’ve seen quite a few trailers for bad movies, one example that springs to mind is the forgotten Nicole Kidman flick The Invasion, which I never even bothered to watch but I still remember the trailer

  38. I can see where odo19 is coming from. DREDD is an exceptional movie only if you consider what it didn’t do wrong. On its own merits as a film, it came across as a cash-strapped pilot episode for a series on network tv that they forgot to write a script for before shooting.

    I guess the depictions of drug use were well done. And Sarah Connor Chronicle was really good. But Psychic Sidekick Girl was terrible in both conception and performance. And I didn’t think Urban was particularly badass. They certainly didn’t get any of the sense of jeapordy that made THE RAID so effective.

  39. I actually went and saw this at the theater about a week ago and I had a blast seeing this. I think I was one of the youngest ones in the theater because the rest were old timers and middle-aged people (It was a Tuesday afternoon. People who go during the daytime in the week are old and retired, school skippers or some who are just off). I had a great time seeing this that I might even see this again soon. I just hope it doesn’t suffer the fate “Dredd” did because I had a blast seeing that as well.

    I wonder if another factor that people aren’t seeing this has to do with Arnold’s former run as governor. Being a guy who lives in California, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people out here are boycotting the movie because of his politics. Honestly, I didn’t care for him as a politician, but I do like his movies.

  40. I think you guys are underestimating Kim Jee-Woon’s efforts on this one. Obviously it’s a lot sillier and more disposable than his Korean output up to now, but I think there are innumerable traces of a genuine master behind the camera here. Great pacing, sharp action sequences, an impressive balance between broad comedy and badass action (especially for a guy who doesn’t speak the language all that well) and a few surprisingly effective scenes. The one tearjerker scene in there, which we all knew was coming from frame one… honestly, I was genuinely surprised to feel the faint stirring of real human emotion there. Exactly enough to get the job done without being a total buzzkill. I figure he must be doing something pretty fucking right if a script which is actually lazy enough to trot out the old-lady-wth-a-shotgun gag manages to come across as fun an watchable. Problem is, the movie doesn’t have too many big showoffy sequences so it’s easy to overlook just how effective he makes the small stuff.

  41. The original Paul

    January 28th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    “As a film I thought it was better constructed and more adroit than the Expendables.”

    Man, the average Michael Bay film is better constructed and more adroit than “the Expendables”. I mean, I totally agree with you about “The Last Stand”, but it deserves a little more praise than that!

    And odo – put it this way – I was one of the people who thought “Dredd” absolutely worked in what it tried to do, modest though those ambitions may have been. You may very well disagree with me on that, which is fine. All I can say is that for me, “The Last Stand” was another film that had modest ambitions but succeeded admirably in living up to them. It’s very very different to “Dredd” in tone and intent, but that may be a good thing if you didn’t like “Dredd” anyway.

  42. California is a big state but I can’t imagine the rest of the country followed his politics to a degree that they would boycott his movie. I didn’t even vote for him but I ended up impressed by the way he handled things moderately.

  43. When I first heard about this movie, I was hoping it would be more of a serious thriller and a little less broad and goofy, but I appreciated it for what it was, and it’s a lot better than anything Arnold was doing in the 7-8 years before he became governor (give or take a T3, maybe) which is a relief.

    The movie’s scenario is a classic one that I really dig – the gang of misfits brought together by extreme circumstances making a, well, last stand against a massive force. When it’s done right it’s really compelling, but I think the film’s goofy slackness let it down here. I never really got to like the characters that much (there’s a token attempt to flesh out the female deputy and the veteran guy, but it doesn’t really play), and then when it’s time for the big showdown the stakes never felt serious enough to get me involved.

    Even though the execution wasn’t totally there, I do think this is the right type of movie for Arnold to be doing – a modestly budgeted b-movie with a really talented director behind the wheel. In my opinion he’s done enough big huge movies for a lifetime, I’d like to see him stay in this budget range and take some chances instead of just replaying his greatest hits and making token appearances in panderfests like EXPENDABLES 2.

    I thought the action filmmaking was still pretty crisp, if not to the standard Jee-woon set on THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD. I thought his way of framing action shots to emphasize the impact of what was happening was really good, and the cornfield chase was really original in how it was presented. There’s a great shot as the badguys are zooming down some zip lines and the camera follows them like halfway down, then lowers to street level to show the feds looking for them. Lots of visual imagination here, but maybe not always as coherent as you want.

    Arnold’s really in classic force-of-nature mode here. I like how he’s used as a human battering ram, just exploding through people and getting insanely beaten up in the process. It’s great that he’s mostly acknowledging his age, if not dealing directly with it. He really needs to ditch the Just For Men, though.

    Agree with caruso_stalker217 about the length. Should’ve been a lot leaner and shorter.

    Franchise Fred Topel – regarding it bombing, I think you have to partly look at the marketing (they failed to emphasize that this is an event, Arnie’s big comeback), and also the fact that it’s clearly a cheesy, lowrent R-rated action flick starring an old man. It’s not built to be a smash hit, though I think a lot of the people writing it off (I know a lot of Arnold fans who aren’t interested in it at all) would find that it’s a pretty good time if they actually went to see it. I saw it at 7pm on a saturday and my theater only had like 10 people in it, but they all had a blast. They were even super into all the broad comedy, which made me feel good even though I wasn’t really laughing. I did laugh pretty hard at “welcome to Sommerton” because it was such a classic Arnold one-liner with that tone Vern talks about, absurd yet played straight.

  44. I had a lot of fun seeing this. The audience was laughing their ass off. The third act was nice. It was a straight shoot out, no gimmicky editing, just balls to the wall gun fighting with some good comedic touches to keep it from being too serious. Seems like the movie built it up nicely. I also liked the corn field chase. Didn’t enjoy the final battle on the bridge. It felt like they tried a lot of different things and it just ended up feeling like a step backward from what we just saw. I have a theory they re-shot something else at the last minute, and that explains the green screen background. Otherwise I just couldn’t fathom why they did it that way.

  45. Speaking of the fight on the bridge- am I the only person getting a little tired of people randomly using MMA grappling techniques in movie fight scenes nowadays? They’re very conspicuous simply from the fact that never never used to get used, and I think it ruins supposedly personal one on one fights between two guys who aren’t professional fighters when one of them gets all technical and tries to slap on an armbar. If it was played up as one guy dominating the other and wanting to dismantle him by breaking various limbs, that’d be fine, but I don’t like it for climactic bouts.

  46. It’s conspicuous to me because I have no knowledge of/interest in MMA, but for decades I’ve watched and enjoyed characters in action movies randomly displaying other types of martial arts skills so I can’t really complain. I used to think grappling techniques were inherently uncinematic, but since then I’ve seen it used to good effect in films like HAYWIRE and FLASHPOINT. It’s all in the execution. Like yourself, I do enjoy a good limb-snapping… I rewatched TOM YUM GOONG recently and I think it must have the world record for number of limb-snappings depicted on film.

  47. I will never be against awesome submissions being used in movies. Mel Gibson finishing Busey with a triangle choke in the first Lethal Weapon is still one of the coolest things ever. The end fight in the Last Stand was actually a nice example of choreography that tells us about the characters (which is what it should always do) – Cortez is the slick racecar driving BJJ guy, but Arnie’s a relentless brawler who gives him the Rampage-style body slams when Cortez tries to choke him out. I thought it was neat.

  48. Hey Vern, glad you liked this way more than me, but I don’t think describing it as “purposely ludicrous but straight-faced” is accurate. Straight-faced would not include all the Knoxville shenanigans with the light pole or the corn field gag that you seemed to like. That’s straight-up comedy. Also, terrible. I get what you’re saying: the ridiculous car and bridge stuff is played fairly straight, but when placed with that other stuff, it’s as if the movie is acknowledging that you’re actually not supposed to take it seriously. It’s the difference between Arnold breaking a dude’s neck then telling the flight attendant “don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired,” and Arnold as the Terminator wearing stupid Elton John glasses. One is a diagetic joke that the character is in on. The other is a joke for the audience with the character as an unknowing butt of a joke. The former works better in action movies. The latter turns action movies into Police Academy, to use your example of the kind of humor this movie seems to be going for. A straight faced movie wouldn’t work so hard to make the audience feel smarter than the characters.

  49. Just read that TLS has bombed here in the UK too, taking just over half a million, and only just scraping into the top ten.

    Les Miserables is still number one.

    Truly depressing news.

  50. The Original... Paul

    January 30th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    “Just read that TLS has bombed here in the UK too, taking just over half a million, and only just scraping into the top ten.”

    Wow. I guess the first showing is the most popular… the cinema I saw it at was full.

  51. Mahoney, I don’t entirely disagree with you. But I think the comedy parts stand out from what is otherwise a “serious” action movie. It would go in the action section before the comedy section. I agree that some of the parts you mentioned are exceptions, but the overall plot with the supercar and everything is meant to be taken seriously, and I appreciate that.

  52. A lot of the Korean films I’ve seen are full of whiplash tonal shifts and seemingly out-of-place moments of goofy comedy. I don’t know how much of that sensibility Kim Jee-Woon brings to this film, though. TLS isn’t out here yet.

  53. Did they cut the interrogation scene with the ethnically ambiguous guy? I loved that bit when I saw an early cut. I’m pretty shocked that no one is discussing the really interesting subtext of nationality in this film. *EVERYONE* is doing an accent. And Arnold’s one-liner, “You give us immigrants a bad name!” is one of his all time best, imo.

    Not a great movie, but a few very interesting touches that belay the very-international nature of this production.

  54. This movie was doomed by the marketing. They clearly ran into a problem with casting because there is no way Knoxville was their first, third or even seventh choice for the role. It was clearly supposed to be a hip, young comedian who could balance the oldster factor of Arnold and draw the youth MTV crowd. They wanted what MTV’s internal marketing division calls, “The Mook.” Knoxville was a Mook. Bam Margera was another. Tom Green was one too. Beavis And Butthead might have been the originals.

    The problem is this: Johnny Knoxville is straight-up middle-aged. He’s way too old to have that kind of youth appeal. I’m pretty sure they cast him at the right price shortly after Jackass 3D did 50 million opening weekend and I can see why that seemed smart at the time. But it’s really not. Knoxville is in his 40s. He’s totally wrong for this role, even if he seems kinda right on paper.

    A rational marketing division would have trumped up the crazy ensemble that this film boasts. Or gone with the ‘Arnold’s back!’ angle. Or gone with the Arnold teaming with one of Korea’s best and brightest angle (especially after Gungam Style made Korean pop culture chic). Instead, Lionsgate doubled down on Knoxville, putting him in every poster right beside Arnold. Putting his name in giant letters right next to Arnold. Showing him looking idiotic…right next to Arnold.

    To the average teen, the poster looks like a picture of a dude who was funny when they were in elementary school standing next to a dude who was a movie star before they were born. Add to that the vague discomfort of the chain gun in a school bus key art and you have a marketing disaster.

    Of course, I’ve known this would bomb HARD for a long time. I went to a test screening of this movie last summer and I got there really late. Normally, if you’re not there an hour beforehand you won’t get in. I got there 20 minutes before showtime and still got a good seat. The theater wasn’t even full when the movie started. Lionsgate literally couldn’t give out tickets for free to this one.

  55. I sometimes wonder if the tonal shifts that happen in Korean films would work in an American film. I guess I’ll have my answer after The Last Stand. Of course, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird had some pretty goofy moments. The part (if I remember it correctly) where the kids stab the guy in the ass was a little too much for me, even for a Korean movie.

  56. Yes I’ll also add my recommendation for this one too. Much like JACK REACHER from Christmas, its good. Not great or even remarkable to be honest, but for the 90-110 minutes I was in the theatre I was actually sorta engaged with the plot (even if the FBI scenes were boring) and that whole EXTREME PREJUDICE / NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN contemporary pseudo-western, and Arnold and his misfit gang of deputies, and laughed at the lines.

    Seriously was I the only one who laughed at the immigrant line?

    You know what I actually admire? The climax.

    *SPOILER*

    Arnold doesn’t kill the bad guy. I was fully expecting Arnold, as climax to that fight, drop the baddie from the bridge into the river and quip “you’re getting deported!” But instead Arnold wins the fight and arrests him, taking him back into custody in a fucking hilarious visual if you ask me. I like that we get policeman Arnold and not usual vigilante Arnold or whatever, which I expected considering the villain pulls the old trope of getting his rookie deputy killed.

    Also I laughed when during his escape plan, the villain has a butler waiting for him at the elevator. Now that’s a touch of sophisticated taste and snobbery that I like in my baddies sometimes.

  57. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER RRA – I also loved the way the film ended (well, not so much MMA grappling moves, which I just find endlessly uncinematic) but I love the final showdown, and the way Arnold wins not so much by being faster or stronger or more skilled, but just by being tougher than this pretty boy race car yuppie. Stab him, punch him, it doesn’t matter, he’s just going to keep coming until you give up. A great scene (in fact, such a great scene that I didn’t even notice the greenscreen work everyone seems to be complaining about).

    But it’s the fact that he DOESN’T kill the guy that really stands out to me. Lots of action movies miss a great opportunity by simply blowing away the villain before he has the chance to realize just how thoroughly he’s been beaten. Not here — this jackass gets the indignity not just of being beaten up, but of being marched back into town like a child, and then of having to set next to his ex for 6 hours on his way back where he came from. That’s total defeat, and I like it even better than seeing him tossed off a bridge. The guy’s so assured of his badassery that watching him just be totally humiliated is infinitely more satisfying than letting him die a warrior’s death.

  58. Tawdry Hepburn – I think the other marketing problem is that people just don’t care about those R-rated actioneers of yesteryear. (See DREDD bombing last year) Sure EXPENDABLES series makes money, but thats pretty much the testosterone version of those Doo Wop package tours where you get a bunch of has-beens and one-hit wonders. (Or golden age hip hop tours where you might get the reunited Salt N Peppa, awkwardly minus one member.)

    Not to mention that Arnold hasn’t really (I might argue) gotten over that whole Nanny/love child fiasco image-wise. EXPENDABLES covered him because he wasn’t the show, but here he is and I wonder how much that played into it.

    Mr. Subtlety – Quite frankly the hero killing the villain meme is so routinely done by the numbers, I actually cheer (inwardly of course) when we don’t get that cliche. I don’t know that many movies who don’t do that in the last 30 something years, Ridley Scott’s BLACK RAIN is one that comes to mind. What else?

    Vern – you didn’t like the “shoe” line? I found that hilarious.

  59. RRA — not a lot, and when they do it’s usually some kind of revenge thriller where the whole crux of the drama is that the hero has to learn to forgive or something, like BAD LIEUTENANT for instance. Here, he never really considers killing the guy, it’s just not what he does. His job is to administer the law, not settle a personal score. And as a bonus, it’s still more satisfying this way. Other examples… hmm.. RED STATE, but that’s not really an action movie. I guess in DARK KNIGHT the Joker lives, although Batman’s kill-to-save ratio is pretty iffy overall.

  60. My preferred onscreen fighting is more showy martial arts, but I approve of the increased use of armbars and choke holds because it’s just keeping up with fight technology, if you will. Because of UFC all the other fighting styles learned that they had to learn to deal with Brazilian Jiujitsu or they could be defeated by a much smaller opponent. Movies acknowledging this is a nod to semi-quasi-almost-realism. In this case we never would’ve believed the little guy stood a chance against Arnold without some sort of equalizing factor like knowledge of submission holds. Or I guess he could’ve just run around in circles until Arnold got tired, but this was more cinematic.

  61. I just think certain moves come off looking overly intricate and more choreographed at times(such as the roll through armbar you see sometimes).

    I also liked the way the ending went. It reminded me of SWAT(a film I actually like and don’t get all the hate for), which did something similar.

  62. “Or I guess he could’ve just run around in circles until Arnold got tired, but this was more cinematic.”

    That got a long, loud laugh out of me. I could easily picture that at the end of the film and it’s just a priceless visual.

    Anywho, I REALLY liked this film and I was very surprised by the general apathy towards. I’m sad it didn’t make more bank at the box office …but it’s really nice to have Arnold back where he belongs.

  63. The Original... Paul

    January 31st, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    To those who cheered at the villain’s fate at the end:

    I agree.

    How the heck has nobody else mentioned the flare gun yet? That was the moment where the entire cinema just burst out laughing.

  64. Unless I missed it, Arnold never said or alluded to “I’ll be back” though. Isn’t that bad form?

  65. Stu— I’m pretty sure he snuck an “I’m back” into The Expendables 2. It’s not as though he needs to reference it in every movie he’s in.

    On a related note, I’m going to see Bullet To The Head later tonight… so I’ll be sure and keep an eye (ear?) out for Stallone possibly uttering a “yo, absolutely”. Thanks for the (sort of) reminder.

  66. Mahoney – your point about diagetic jokes is a really good one. I think that could be the key difference between ironic one-liners that aren’t really funny, and Commando style ones that actually are hilarious.

  67. *diegetic…

  68. The Original... Paul

    February 1st, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Ok, that’s a nice question to ask. What do YOU want in a fight scene?

    For me it’s the hard-to-define question of “impact”, plus the point I made previously about the fight having “purpose”. It has to have stakes to it, it has to reflect the characters involved or advance them, I have to care about the outcome. But just on a technical level, I want the fight to be edited and shot in such a way that I don’t have to think about what’s going on, I can just let it “hit me”.

    I thought that “The Last Stand”‘s final fight was edited in such a way that the two fighters were shown too much in close-up, and with too much quick editing. I had to keep adjusting to the different camera angles, which took me “out of the film” a little. So I wasn’t a huge fan of the fight itself, although I appreciate a bit of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu as much as the next man (probably the most memorable move of the entire fight was when Noriega tries to arm-bar Arnie). As others have pointed out though, seeing Noriega’s eventual humiliation was absolutely worth it. Still, not a great fight for me.

    Some good fight scenes… Donnie Yen versus Jing Wu from “Killzone” is a fight I can watch again and again. I’m invested in the characters, the choreography and editing are superb, the scoring is fantastic, the cinematography and lighting especially is fantastic, and the entire fight is done in a series of mostly long-take “exchanges” where the two characters clash, back off, draw breath, then clash again. If I had a nitpick, it would be that one or two of the moments that are slow-motion probably shouldn’t be – slow-motion can add impact to a fight scene or take it away, and once or twice I think it comes closer to doing the latter – but that’s a very very minor point.

    “Enter the Dragon”. I mean, I wrote a freaking essay on this film in one of the Potpourris. With the exception of Roper vs Bolo Yeung, every single fight in this film is a stone-cold classic for some reason or another. Whether it’s Lee owning the thug who forced his sister to commit suicide, Han demonstrating just how strong and how hateable he is by killing Williams in the most sadistically apt way imaginable, or Lee and Han stalking each other through the hall of mirrors… every fight is memorable, every one has impact. Even Roper versus the Australian guy at the beginning is a great fight scene, if only because it demonstrates just how much of a badass Roper really is.

    And I know I’ve been more critical than most of “Haywire”; but damn, did I love the action scenes. They were well-shot, well-choreographed, “natural”-looking, and full of “impact”. (Sometimes enough to make me wince.) Especially the ones involving Channing Tatum, and of course Carano versus Michael Fassbender. I still think she needed a physical adversary at the end, not just Ewan MacGregor, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of what we got. If the only thing wrong with part of a film is that you want more of it, I think it’s safe to say that it works!

    (And yes, I was going to give more examples of fights that didn’t work for me, but the first one I came up with involved the dreaded “B”-word, so I let it slide.)

  69. Vern — “run around in circles until Arnold got tired” made me giggle out loud like a 6th-grader in a sex-ed class. Still, I don’t know that it was really necessary to try and make the dude a physical threat to Arnold any more than it’s necessary to try to pretend Seagal’s opponents have a chance against him. I mean, he’s Arnold, we know this fucker doesn’t really stand a chance, why not just make it a completely one-sided fight? Let him try his fancy moves, Arnold’s just gonna smack him up and send him home to mama. Since we know he isn’t a credible threat anyway, I would have preferred some flashy moves over the more practical (but IMHO less fun to watch) grappling stuff. Oh well, at least it makes it sort of unique. How did you feel about the fact that the Villain SPOILER SPOILER actually gets to survive in this one? Pretty unusual for an action movie, but I think I ended up liking it even better.

  70. I guess what I look for in a fight scene are often the same things you look for in any other action scene, and hence any normal movie scene: motivation, stakes, clarity of storytelling.

    Choreography is a biggie. It should be creative, professional, and it should say something about the characters. I hate fight choreography that feels like two kids screwing around in their backyard and practicing moves they saw on TV. The end fight in Mission: Impossible 2 has that quality and I’ve always disliked it for that reason. Bloodsport is another one that pops into mind, I watched it again recently and I found the actual choreography really amateurish, especially when you compare it to the stuff HK movies were doing at the same time. In The Dark Knight Rises when Bane and Batman fought they just lamely traded rights and lefts and I thought their fights were really crummy and poorly shot.

    You also need physically gifted performers who are willing to go balls-out. That’s where Kill Bill comes up short for me – the choreography, shooting philosophy and commitment of the performers are all there, but in many instances I just wasn’t satisfied with Uma Thurman’s moves & athleticism. It might’ve been okay if she was shooting ‘normal’ or realistic fight scenes like the one in True Romance but with a kung-fu movie I hold the performers to a higher standard of fluidity and athleticism, and she just wasn’t even close to being on the same level as, say, Michelle Yeoh in her prime.

    Okay, so you have choreography and physical performance, and it should go without saying on here that it needs to be filmed properly – frame the shot so that the action isn’t poorly emphasized, hold the camera steady, don’t cut too much if you can help it. What’s the magic ingredient to make a fight special? For me, a fight scene is at its best when it convinces me of a few things: that these guys know what they’re doing*, that the fight is incredibly brutal and painful, and that their lives are on the line.

    *This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because sometimes two guys just desperately-yet-somewhat-incompetently going at it can be really compelling (Tony vs Ralphie in The Sopranos), but it still takes a lot of underlying skill to make a fight look realistic in that way.

    So I would sum my preferences up as: clarity, danger, execution. And not too much music playing over a fight please. There’s a lot of room under these umbrellas for different styles of fighting, levels of realism, levels of seriousness, etc., but ultimately the worst thing a fight can do is seem routine. Just one Mutombo’s opinion.

  71. The Original... Paul

    February 2nd, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Mutombo – good answer. VERY good answer.

    “Danger” might be a much better description of what I mean by “purpose”.

    “This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because sometimes two guys just desperately-yet-somewhat-incompetently going at it can be really compelling (Tony vs Ralphie in The Sopranos)”

    Or, indeed, the “Put on the glasses!” fight in “They Live”. I shoulda remembered that one earlier.

  72. Oh yeah, They Live is another killer example. I randomly saw that movie on TV when I was 14, not knowing anything about it and at that time not having any kind of strong aesthetic preferences, and when the fight happened I still could tell that I was seeing something really different and special.

  73. Finally saw it. Disappointed. I could say it’s ok if I’m being generous. Of this year’s old guy movies it’s the least overt and obnoxious about it. Man, what are people going to think when they look back at 2013 and THE LAST STAND, STAND UP GUYS and BULLET TO THE HEAD and more are sure coming?

    But the action felt dead to me, just totally static. The few outrageous ridiculous moments seemed to mistake shock for humor but it’s not exciting or funny to just throw in a ridiculous kill shot in an otherwise boring gunfight.

    Baby steps for Arnold embracing his old man phrase I guess, but Clint came right out and did UNFORGIVEN and IN THE LINE OF FIRE and that worked out well for him,

  74. Saw it at the $2 theatre to a pretty packed house; they loved it. I know there was a lot of (competently shot) action involving the drug dealer before the High Noon-esque showdown, but the first 2/3 of the movie just felt like treading water to me. I know it’s my own expectations and not the movie itself, but i don’t know if you can reasonably expect audiences to go along with a movie where Arnold is on the sidelines for the majority of it. (That doesn’t seem to be a problem with a lot of people though)

    The more I think about the movie though, i like it a lot more. The sad scene as you guys mentioned is really effective considering how predictable it is, and the acting is all-around excellent. The final fight was great for reasons listed above, and yeah, I do like that Arnold let the bad guy live. Even though alot of heroes have shown mercy on the lead villain (even Seagal in Fire Down Below!), I think this may be the first time I can remember where the bad guy just stops fighting and quits because he knows he can’t do anything to beat Arnold. It’s a great moment, and the “ok ok ok……$20 million!!!!” line was hilarious.

  75. hello everybody, i saw The Last Stand yesterday. it was a old school action movie with lots of action, humor and Arnie offcourse.
    and for those that are looking for Sonny Landham in the picture, he is the cook and owner of the dinner. Sonny was born in 1941
    and that makes him 71/72 years old.

  76. Gerry— It is my earnest belief that Sonny Landham was genetically engineered rather than “born”. True, there are more robust physical specimens of manlitude walking the earth, but they probably had to pump some serious iron to achieve it. Sonny strikes me as a guy who’s never done a single pushup or situp in his life yet STILL looks that ripped.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed the movie.

  77. I thought the movie was absolutely dreadful. Story utterly nonsensical, acting mostly bad, script was garbage, not funny, badly edited and the score was abysmal – the violence was also gruesome for the sake of it, left a bad taste in the mouth. Schwarzenegger looked well past it, but I guess he didn’t think it would turn out this bad. It’s difficult for Arnie to make a comeback because, let’s face it, he doesn’t do emotion and his acting is so one-dimensional it vastly diminishes the roles he can play. It’s all about the visual element with him – and of course, he’s just not as appealing to look at anymore. Unfortunately, most people will watch through nostalgic eyes, force themselves to like it. He should retire and leave his legacy in tact, he will NEVER touch his best work.

  78. James – Those of us who liked TLS or BULLET TO THE HEAD didn’t out of some misguided nostalgia. We liked them because, well we love action movies. I thought they were decent.

    Besides, we love Bruce Willis. But most of us agreed the new DIE HARD sucked balls.

  79. I love action moves – or did, the problem is TLS was so cliched it was intolerable. The granny with the shotgun…. yawn, how many times we seen that? Old jokes, old scenes, the utter predictability of it. I still feel Schwarzenegger could do so much better – or be guided/directed better, but he has a divorce to pay for I guess. I hope Arnie does not churn out this rubbish for another 5 years, although his films were getting progressively worse anyway before he became governor I think TLS is the worst movie he’s ever done.

  80. James, how can you say that you love action moves (movies?) if you think this is Schwarzenegger’s worst? This is Arnold’s RIO BRAVO. The transition movie where he, like The Duke did in ’59, tell everybody that he is now officially old and that he from no on will make movies for us old farts. Who by the way love this kind of stuff.

  81. I am 100% behind pegsman on this.

  82. Arnold has made some stinkers. I thought 6TH DAY and RAW DEAL were both meh as hell. RED SONJA was goofy lame. I didn’t care for CONAN THE DESTROYER. COLLATERAL DAMAGE was disposable. The comedy JINGLE ALL THE WAY had honest intentions but it wasn’t funny. And so forth.

    So yeah I thought TLS was decent as an actioneer/pseudo-western. Nice cast playing the archetypes (rookie, weary boss, town drunk, etc.) with some nice thrills and humor. I even loved how the climax and ending play out between the hero and villain. That image of Arnold leading the villain into town was fucking hilarious. He acted like a real cop, not a vigilante. I also enjoyed that the villain during his getaway had to get a wardrobe/wash-up, which I found relatable in some way.

    The only problem was Forest Whittaker wasted doing Jason Bourne computer room scenes of yelling at his people to STOP HIM! And you have to really take a creative jump accepting that the Feds can’t stop this car.

  83. I enjoyed this one a lot, but also found it a little frustrating in that I felt it could have been just that much better. It seemed to waver between a smaller, slightly more thoughtful and stylish “little” comeback vehicle for Arnold, and the kind of slick, slightly empty but extremely entertaining big studio action movies we “all” miss from the 90s. Have to say I think it had more potential to excel as the later. Still, a fun time at the movies, and the likes of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN make me recall this all the more fondly (didn’t catch BULLET TO THE HEAD unfortunately)

  84. The original Paul

    May 5th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    James – as the person who took probably the most positive experience from this movie – I absolutely agree that it’s flawed, and there’s a lot of cliches in it; but there’s no way in hell that this movie is worse than “Jingle All the Way” or “Collateral Damage”. I’m sorry that you didn’t have the same experience that I did watching it. But again… I saw it in a packed cinema with an audience of action fans that went in cautious and came out with big smiles on their faces. Most people didn’t have the chance to see it that way.

  85. A movie with flaws?!! Surely,you jest.

  86. I enjoyed this a lot.

    Some things:

    -I had to rewind Harry Dean Stanton’s exit four or five times. I knew it was coming, it was obviously coming, and yet I still pulled a “Whaaaaaaat?!” when he (spoiler) flew off that tractor. I’ll forgive the use of CGI as HDS must be about a hundred years old by now so it would be unfair to have him perform stuntwork.

    -I liked Arnie taking the guy off the roof of the building and shooting him in the head as they fell.

    -The bit an hour in when Arnie hangs up on Whitaker. Okay, he is in his office and pockets his phone. Behind him on the wall is an eagle ornament. As he stands up straight, his head comes in line with the eagle’s wings to give him what looks like a perfect set of bunny ears protruding from his head, just for a couple of seconds. Now, maybe the director didn’t notice this, but I just watched the documentary Room 237 which posited that in The interview scene from The shining, Kubrick placed an in-tray on Ullman’s desk to make it look like he had a proud erection aimed at Jack, so I am convinced that directors know what they’re doing and watch what they’re shooting.

    -However, I thought Luis Guzman got blown up by “the big gun” at the site of the desert shootout, so was surprised to see him pop up a little while later. On rewinding, I realised he gets into his police car, and then the other police car gets destroyed a second later. All those police cars, man. They all look the same to me.

    -I genuinely expected Bad Guy to bounce FBI woman out of the car from an ejector seat. Mildly disappointed the car wasn’t equipped with one.

    Overall, very enjoyable, possibly emphasised by my low expectations (see also, Die Hard 5, which I much preferred to Die Hard 4. Yeah, you may not have been able to see much of the action, but at least it wasn’t so fucking grey).

  87. This was a w/o in the theatre 14 months ago, due to extreme sickly teal-orangeness and extreme Johnny Knoxvilleness, and today when I finally finished THE LAST STAND in my living room I knew that 2013 Mouth was correct. Talkbacker James’s assessment — “dreadful” — is also correct.

    Pros:

    -a couple of the action scenes

    -it’s better (ish?) than THE EXPENDABLESes

    -the meta way in which commentary on the issue of immigration is played out in the casting & crew (including the foreign director visiting USA on a kind of work visa, if you will) and the contrasting fight styles & weapons preferences

    Cons:

    -Well, whatever, I hate this movie, but I’m already sorry to harsh your mellows, so I won’t articulate here everything rotten in this rotten film.

  88. The Original... Paul

    March 10th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Stop the presses… Mouth and Paul completely disagree on a film.

    We’re heading into uncharted territory here folks. Better break out the parachutes / life rafts. (Nope, I haven’t decided whether this metaphor takes place on an aeroplane or a boat yet.)

  89. I liked THE LAST STAND. It wasn’t what I was expecting for Arnies’ comeback, which I think is a good thing considering how much of an icon the Austrian Oak is in action cinema. They needed the weird flavouring of a foreign director like Jee-Woon to make things interesting again.

    Kinda the same way Sly and Arnie imported Hafstrom to direct ESCAPE PLAN. For me, that was a solid action film that benefited from a foreigners perception of who these guys were, and who they are now(exactly the same, but older), and using their limitations to make things familiar, but interesting as well.

  90. Darren – I completely agree with you. I would even say the same about BULLET IN THE HEAD with Sly also from last year. Movies that as star vehicles understood the star’s strengths and weakness and surrounded them with solid support around them. (See NON-STOP recently for Liam Neeson. Isn’t it fucked up that we live in a world now where he’s a bigger action star than Arnold and Sly combined?)

  91. RRA – BULLET was great too, a lot more brutal and less jokey than THE LAST STAND. I didn’t notice any CGI blood in BULLET, it was all arterial geyser sprays, the old school way.

    I like them both but would say BULLET is my favourite of the two. It reminded me a bit of PAYBACK(theatrical cut), with the hard-boiled characters and voice-over from Sly.

    And Walter Hill hasn’t made a movie this good since JOHNNY HANDSOME(my favourite Hill joint next to SOUTHERN COMFORT).

    As for Neeson the action star, he’s bankable because of his success in well known dramatic stuff like SCHINDLERS LIST. I’ve noticed a lot of older(over 55), more conservative people, seeing his action films like TAKEN. The type of people you wouldn’t expect to get to a SLY or ARNIE slam-fest.

    Not sure what this says about the state of action films, if it means they’re having their nuts removed by studios so as to appeal to as many people as possible. If so, most of Neeson’s recent action/thrillers fit into that category.

    THE GREY was a standout though, using Neeson’s strength as a dramatic actor to ground the movie, and like you said, surrounding him with solid supporting actors. And his physicality made the action scenes believable.

    So I think Neeson can give us the best of both worlds. It’s just most of the time I prefer the hard-core, old-school, don’t fuck with me attitude of the other guys.

  92. My personal favorite Walter Hill is EXTREME PREJUDICE. It´s basically an 80´s THE WILD BUNCH filled to the brim with tough guys and violent shootouts in a western setting. It´s a masterpiece as far as I am concerned and puts most of the action movies of the 80´s to shame.

  93. ..and what an awesome title for an action/western. Sounds like it could have been the title of a Dirty Harry sequel. “Harry is back to clean up the streets…with EXTREME PREJUDICE.”

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