Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Last Stand [2013]

Director: Kim Jee-woon
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Luiz Guzman, Eduardo Noriega, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville
Genre: Action/Comedy
Rating: Teen (gun violence, blood)
Verdict: "Not as straightforward as one might think..."

In an idyllic border town called Sommerton in Arizona, Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) enjoys the tiny pleasures his retirement from the LAPD could offer him, his days coloured by his deputies and the residents of Sommerton. However, he receives a grim wake up call when FBI Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) informs him about the fugitive drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) coming his way in a powerful sports car, with his band of militia clearing the path for him. The FBI has exhausted all of its available resources, it's now up to Sheriff Owens and his deputies to prevent this most wanted criminal from escaping to Mexico.

What to Expect
1. A treat for action movie fans
2. Surprisingly well-written
3. Schwarzenegger still has it
4. To sidestep many of the genre's most off-putting cliches
5. A nice blend of the old and the new

What NOT to Expect
1. A Schwarzenegger one-man show
2. The Expendables
3. The Michael Bay brand of brainless action
Easily one of the best 2013 has to offer thus far
It didn't come as a surprise to me that The Last Stand had trouble finding an audience. Even as a staunch action film fan, I was in no rush to see it. Part of what may drew skepticism to The Last Stand, I think, may be due to having Schwarzenegger in the lead role. People may have gotten the impression that it was gonna be something in the vein of The Expendables [2010]. Granted, it wouldn't have been such a bad thing.

Heck, I liked The Expendables. But in this day and age, you really gotta have a reason to make a movie like that. The Expendables had theirs. What was the reason for The Last Stand, then? Well for starters, it marks the first time in ten years since Schwarzenegger starred in a leading role. It looks like it could be fun, and we all know that Schwarzenegger knows how not to take himself too seriously in his movies.

But wait, there's more. The Last Stand wasn't simply Schwarzenegger channeling the '80s. It's a little hard to tell from the promotional campaign, but Schwarzenegger was really just a part of a solid cast of characters. Nothing Oscar-worthy, sure. But it was more than you'd expect from an action flick. So it wasn't like he was surrounded by a bunch of redshirts and a token black guy. Schwarzenegger is back, but they made sure not to bring John Matrix along with him.

So kudos to the screenwriter for this surprisingly well-written story about a seemingly straightforward shoot 'em up movie. It called to mind classics like Rio Bravo [1959], 3:10 to Yuma [1957], and arguably Die Hard [1988]. The Last Stand may or may not have drew its inspirations from the said movies, but the similar feel it had helped in giving it some merit, not to mention precedent for everything that happened in the movie.

So yeah, don't go around thinking that this is one of those movies where the story was written as an afterthought, an excuse for showing people getting shot and things blowing up. And when the action sequences come around, it was apparent that a lot of thought went into it as well because it all felt organic; another way of saying that the action felt real and CGI did not take the center stage. I haven't had the chance to see director Kim Jee-woon's other movies, but I'm guessing that's how he rolls?

1 comment:

Zulfahmi said...

I watched the interview of the casts and most of them said the director is amazing... He barely speaks English and during the shoot, he had translators to help him deliver his visions...

He also directed the casts using sign language...

and yes, this movie is so awesome... Just like you, I was not in a hurry to watch it because of the fact that Arnie is rather old...

Nevertheless, I enjoyed most parts of the movie... The coolest scene would be when the villain escaped the helicopter's spotlight... Brilliant!

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