Last Stand, The (2013)

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Release date: January 18, 2013
Director: Ji-Woon Kim
Screenplay by: Andrew Knauer, Jeffrey Nachmanoff & George Nolfi
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, Sonny Landham, Peter Stormare, Rodrigo Santoro

The first of three South Korean directors to make their American debuts this year, Kim Jee-woon hits with the most outrageous of them all: the action-packed comeback of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Last Stand takes place in the sleepy town of Summerton, where Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) has chosen to live after years of service to the LAPD. When a drug kingpin escapes from the FBI and plans his escape to Mexico, he and his crew cross paths with the sheriff who plans to bring him to justice.

One can walk in expecting one of two things. There’s the over the top John Woo style action flick we all dream of Kim Jee-woon making, and there’s the cheesy action comeback of Arnold that we wish could be better. The sad truth is that it’s a strange mixture of both, but it’s not an entirely bad thing. The big problem with The Last Stand is that it looks like it was put together by someone who saw a lot of choppy action movies in their life, but never actually made one. Now this would be fine if it were true, but editor Nam Na-young and director Kim Jee-woon made the wildly entertaining action movie The Good, The Bad, The Weird together, and this is a big step short of that.

Arnold is still playing the same sort of character we all expect him to play from his big action days, with plenty of cheesy humor laced into his dialogue. His best moments undeniably come in the film’s captivating final act, which is stuffed to the brim with car chases, shootouts, and wrestling. The supporting cast comes in all brands and styles, with Knoxville, Gusman, and a few of the townspeople providing the bulk of the comedy. It is an action film though, and it’s a shame it doesn’t play up the comedy more because this is a movie that had the potential to be a genius, over the top work of art.

Stylistically speaking, there’s little of the beauty that populates Jee-woon’s previous films, even if some of the silliness from his last action is still around. There’s nothing special about the look of it, which is a major disappointment, considering how gorgeous I Saw the Devil and The Good, The Bad, The Weird were on a much lower budget. One thing it does thankfully have is the fun-filled blood spatter from gunshots that one expects from something like this.

While a mediocre set up and messy editing don’t help The Last Stand much, its a nice little comeback for Schwarzenegger with a crazy final act that makes Kim Jee-woon’s American debut one worth watching.

Rating: ★★★¼☆ 

Juan Barquin

Just yer average twenty-something college student with no time on his hands who ends up watching (and writing) too many movies and shows for his own good.

12 Responses

  1. Camiele says:

    Would you say Kim-sshi may have toned things down for the sake of appealing to American audiences? That’s what I find with a lot of foreign directors coming to the States, at least in terms of Japanese horror and anime live-action translations. I also see it a lot in Korean musicians, though one could make a completely different argument as far as that goes.

    • amy says:

      @Camiele, maybe it’s a language barrier? I don’t know if Kim speaks English, but I’ve heard a lot about Shunji Iwai’s English-debut.

      Then again, maybe it’s also got to do with the script. xD

      • Camiele says:

        @amy, Perhaps, yeah. But also stylistically… at least when I watch remakes of Japanese horror, the style and story (sometimes) is DRASTICALLY toned down (“watered down” some could say). I haven’t even seen this but I’ve seen clips of The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Juan mentions that a lot of the beauty of that film’s lost when it comes to bringing it to American audiences. Do you think that has to do with “adapting” to American audiences’ tastes?

        • amy says:

          @Camiele, I dunno. Both are such different films stylistically xD I mean, TGTBTW is a Kimchi Western. There’s no way an Arnold flick could be that considering how good an actor Kang-Ho Song is. You also have to take into consideration that Kim isn’t working with his Korean crew and a lot of Hollywood, being an industry, works like a factory.

          Have you read the interview Park Chan Wook gave about making Stoker? He mentioned how different it was working in an American production, and he said he wished he had more time to work with Nicole in there.

    • Juan Barquin says:

      @Camiele, I don’t know honestly. I don’t think he was toning things down. I’d blame the writer for the story at hand. When it comes to making things wild and over the top, I think the problem really lies in Arnold’s limitations (although I do think he has the potential to get CAMP AS HELL). But there was just something…off?? about the editing honestly. Everything just felt really rushed and messy like in an average/bad action movie (Quantum of Solace is a good example of that same choppy, poor editing style that I can remember).

  2. Camiele says:

    @amy, I see. That does make a lot of sense. Depends on who you work with… that makes a lot of sense. But, of course, me being me, I tend to just want t slap Hollywood around and maybe kick it in the balls for good measure… HaHA.

  3. Rodrigo says:

    Good that you enjoyed it, Juan. But I feel like your review doesn’t match your star rating… or is that just me?

    My level of interest in this one is 50/50 at any rate.

    • Juan Barquin says:

      @Rodrigo, I was stuck between a 3 and a 3.5 to be honest and I didn’t want to drop it down but I sort of feel like changing it to that .25 now after a while (can I just go ahead and do that? lol).It’s a lot of fun though regardless of my complaints

    • amy says:

      @Rodrigo, I had fun man. LOL I like how Luis Guzman wasn’t a dumb latino and taught the white boy to search for car plates, and I liked how multicultural it all was. The only thing I would’ve changed was switch Santoro and Henney’s roles (even though Santoro is more known) just so that Henney had the chance to be a little bit kick-ass while getting smooched (and break an Asian-man-smooching barrier) and Santoro could play a serious role without having to play anyone’s love interest (even though Santoro was playing white, it would sorta break Latin Lover film history).

      However, the beginning is a little bit silly (even though it tries to be serious) and Whitaker’s storyline seemed all sorts of displaced from Arnie. But the second half of the film is loads of fun.

      • Rodrigo says:

        @amy, Saw this a few days ago. Surprisingly enjoyable, but I wished that Noriega’s character was a bit more developed. Still, a good comeback flick for Arnold.

        • amy says:

          @Rodrigo, well, hardly anyone was developed. It’s just too many characters. It’s not as good as The Good The Bad and the Weird, but that’s because that film is just too much. xD I thought it was just slightly less enjoyable than The Quiet Family.

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