REVIEW: No way is "The Last Stand," which opens this week, Arnold Schwarzenegger's last stand. His character, bordertown sheriff Ray Owens, jokes a lot about being old and creaky, but Schwarzenegger, 65, is far from retiring from the action-movie scene. There'd be no movie here without him in the lead role; with him, "The Last Stand" is an acceptable, if forgettable, 90-minute action film.
The FBI is apparently run by a bunch of bumbling idiots in this movie, unable to stop a drug cartel lord who escaped from their supposedly impregnable motorcade by way of a giant magnet and a sexy woman in leather (don't ask, just go with it). Now the cartel fugitive is in a super-hot Corvette that can go 197 mph, and is barreling towards Arnold's sleepy town like a rocket sled on rails, shooting up roadblocks and anything else that gets in his way. Anyone who's watched a car chase or two starts wondering why the FBI doesn't invest in a few spike strips or maybe just a bucket of nails, but thinking gets you nowhere in an Arnold movie.
Fortunately, Arnold's small town has Arnold, who's willing to take a 4 a.m. call from a cute waitress worrying that the crotchety old farmer (Harry Dean Stanton, hi, Molly Ringwald's dad!) is late with her milk delivery. (It's a clue!)
Arnold also has town gun-museum nut Johnny "Jackass" Knoxville, who conveniently possesses enough weaponry to take over several small countries. Those who still can't get the Connecticut school shootings out of their minds will be unlikely to find much comfort in the way high-powered weaponry is played for laughs here, with the audience roaring when an antique-store owning grandma blows away a bad guy.
Arnold also gets help from Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro and Zach Gilford as a bunch of deputies who aren't used to anything tougher than getting a cat out of a tree. (They actually say that -- come on, couldn't we tweak that cliche to a rattlesnake out of an toilet or something?) They're nice kids, and Guzman's his normal goofball self, so it's a little alarming when they're actually put in danger.
But everything in the movie takes second place to Arnold, who's oddly charming with the townspeople and deputies in a "Kindergarten Cop" way. His accent is still full Arnold, meaning he says "ahm not gahna fot you" which could either be "fault you" or "fight you" (spoiler: it was "fault you."). He gets off a couple gems, as when he looks at Guzman flipping around some medieval weaponry and snorts, "What do you think you're fighting in, a crusade?" ("CRU-sade," in Arnold-ese.)
And when he faces down against the bad guy, either racing hot cars through a cornfield or mano a mano, on a bridge with no cartel henchmen or deputies in sight, it's almost worth the price of admission.
He'll be back. Don't you doubt it for a minute.