‘The Last Stand’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 18th, 2014 at 3:48 am,

Arnold Schwarzenegger The Last Stand The Last Stand Review

The Last Stand is a fun throwback to the days of formulaic but immensely entertaining Schwarzenegger-led films

After nearly a decade since he headlined Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back with a starring role in The Last Stand. During his time as California governor, the actor only committed to a few brief cameo appearances: most notably in The Expendables – a role that was later expanded in its sequel, The Expendables 2.

Korean director Kim Ji-woon was tasked with reintroducing the iconic action star (now ten years older) to the leading man spotlight. An especially fitting challenge, given that the primary character in his new film left Los Angeles to live his peaceful golden years in small town New Mexico. Does The Last Stand prove that Schwarzenegger still has what it takes to be a worthwhile Hollywood leading man that can kick butt and spout memorable one-liners?

While some movie fans might have written-off The Last Stand after seeing a generic middle-of-the-road trailer, the final film provides plenty of crowd-pleasing scenes, exciting set-pieces, and an extremely enjoyable performance from Schwarzenegger. In fact, not only does the aging actor hold is own when going toe-to-toe with bad guys, he also wholly embraces his Hollywood persona, which will further endear viewers to the quirks of his character. Out of context, the gags could be mistaken for a film that tries too hard, but scene-to-scene, even the campiest moments are worthy of a solid laugh. Nitpickers will have an easy time challenging plot holes and logistics, but The Last Stand is unrepentant in its action-western ambition – and delivers where it really counts.

Johnny Knoxville Arnold Schwarzenegger The Last Stand The Last Stand Review

Johnny Knoxville and Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘The Last Stand’

The core storyline is pretty straightforward – starting with the bloody liberation of sadistic drug cartel head Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) from federal custody. Instead of attempting a quiet disappearance via private jet or a low-key border crossing, Cortez hops into the driver’s seat of a modified Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 for a mad (and violent) dash to Mexico. Unfortunately for Cortez, his flight from the law is set to take him through the local farming community of Sommerton Junction, and into the path of LAPD Tactical Forces Officer-turned-small town Sheriff, Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger). As FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) races to catchup with Cortez, Owens and his deputies – along with the help of local weirdo/gun enthusiast, Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) – scramble to stop the drug lord and his team of mercenaries from escaping across the Mexican border.

The Last Stand‘s setup is unapologetically formulaic, and as mentioned before, filled with plot holes that require a hefty dose of disbelief suspending. Any attempts to fill-out the relatively straightforward plot – supporting character arcs, villainous exposition, or an underdeveloped twist – speed past without consequence and occasionally distract from the pacing in the core storyline. The film doesn’t bother with deep or insightful drama; however, The Last Stand presents enough charming characters, clever filmmaking choices, and downright entertaining (sometimes gory) action set pieces for an enjoyable experience. The third act, especially, is full of crowd-pleasing shootouts and brawls that provide just as many surprises and humorous one-liners as there are bullet holes.

Part of the success is owed to a smart mix of side characters – both supporting roles and townsfolk bit parts. Onscreen, Noriega’s Cortez – coupled with that super-powered car – serves as a competent ‘force of nature’ antagonist, even if his overall character is relatively standard. Furthermore, the assembled Sommerton Junction force of Mike Figuerola (Luis Guzmán) and Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander) - along with drunkard war veteran Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) – provides a good counter-balance to Schwarzenegger’s grumpy-but-honorable sheriff. Enjoying second-billing in the film’s marketing, Knoxville’s role as Dinkum isn’t that big, but his performance provides some of the more humorous moments. On its own, the sheer elation on Dinkum’s face while feeding bullets into a mini-gun is bound to help win-over at least a few cynics.

Jaimie Alexander The Last Stand The Last Stand Review

Jaimie Alexander as Sarah Torrance in ‘The Last Stand’

Still, there would be no Last Stand without Schwarzenegger’s larger-than-life persona. Despite a few scenes of overly-sentimental dialogue, where the action star comes across as a bit stiff, Schwarzenegger carries the film. It’s not a career-changing performance, since Owens is mostly an aged riff on characters we’ve seen the actor portray in the past. Nevertheless, he’s the perfect protagonist for the situation depicted in the film. It’s clear that to help separate Owens from the list of memorable Schwarzenegger roles, the actor plays the character to his strengths – even incorporating some interesting self-referential banter about his history with Los Angeles. Instead of distancing this movie from his public persona, Schwarzenegger smartly embraces it – especially when the action ramps up.

A few set pieces of vehicular manslaughter keep the plot moving for the first half of the film and some viewers will likely find the overarching plot to be stretched too thin upfront. However, the second half of the movie provides one explosive setup after another – making smart use of main street Sommertown Junction and surrounding areas. Most notably, a sequence about two-thirds of the way through ups the ante – providing a quick succession of crowd-pleasing moments that lead into a slick (albeit campy) finale.

Director Kim Ji-woon finds a solid balance between cheese and stylized action with his American debut – while making smart use of a likable and quirky roster of characters. Ultimately, The Last Stand is a fun throwback to the days of formulaic but immensely entertaining Schwarzenegger-led films. After the actor’s ten year hiatus, the gamble pays off this round, but with a healthy dose of in-development action roles ahead of him, audiences may be less excited about similar performances down the line. Yet, for now at least, watching Schwarzenegger fire shotguns and body slam bad guys is as enjoyable as ever.

If you’re still on the fence about The Last Stand, check out the trailer below:


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For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out The Last Stand episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

The Last Stand runs 107 minutes and is Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
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  1. I really want to see this, but my local theater isn’t showing it. Instead we get TWO theaters still being used for The Hobbit. Guess I will have to wait to see if they get it next week or for it to be on Netflix.

  2. You forgot his cameo in The Rundown, but oh well. i cant wait to see this flick, glad to have Arnold back on the big screen.

    • and a cameo in Around he World in 80 Days

    • I actually did remember both of those cameos when I was writing and should have mentioned them but thought Expendables was the one to highlight since it became a larger role.

      I’ll reword the sentence to make it a bit clearer.

  3. I really want to see this movie and was really looking forward to seeing it but the theatre I work at isn’t showing it instead we got mama and lincoln…. This really irritates me.

  4. I was pretty concerned that this would be horrible because I promised my father that I would take him to see it this weekend…
    He loves action films. I mean loves. If we watch any movie and something doesn’t blow up within 5 minutes he’s done. So I’m happy that this is a movie we might both enjoy.

  5. I hope this movie was smartly made. Arnold is too old to rely on his presence anymore. I am glad to read the review which reflects movie’s correct way to use Arnold and made it entertaining. I can’t wait to see it now.

  6. Oddly enough, the scene where Johnny Knoxville is laughing while feeding the mini-gun bullets was the scene that won me over in the trailer and is still pretty much my favorite moment of the film.

  7. I haven’t seen the film yet but is the actual Conan sword in it as seen in the trailer? Or is a prop? Anyone know?

    • Haha…glad someone paid attention to it as well ! Yeah it really looks like the Conan Sword…not sure if its the Orignal but it is the Conan Sword !

  8. I wish everyone would stop saying Arnie is using A mini-gun. The weapon is A world war one era Maxium machine gun. The design is about one hundred years old.

    • Oh

      • I was thinking the same thing… I just didn’t wanna be THAT GUY… So thanks for playing Stickler McFunhater. :D

  9. I saw this the other night in an advanced screening. Cheesy fun is definitely how I will describe it. But one thing REALLY annoyed me. The whole Chevy product placement in this movie was just WAY over the top… I mean, I understand product placement, I really do, but whent hey start talking about the car, giving stats on it, showing digital 360 views of the car like you’re on their website reading about it, it’s a little annoying…

    • Haha Skyfall was seriously bad for that last year, there was about a 30 second shot simply on his watch! So unecessary!

  10. I want to see this next payday. I just saw Gangster Squad. I enjoyed it but events sure were changed from what really happened. Mickey Cohen was devoid of all humor – which he did posess. Plus they put him away for murder which didn’t happen at all – just tax evasion. Plus they only showed him wiping his hands once. He washed his hands every 5 minutes. Con Keeler was the last Gangster Squad man to die. And the Emma Stone character did not exist at all. In two weeks I will see The Last Stand. It looks very entertaining. Age does not matter. It just means different roles.

    • @Glenda

      I can explain the lack of humor part. It’s because he was played by Sean Penn, who has ZERO charm… If he tried to be funny it’ll just be creepy…

      • Sean Penn’s only comedic success was as Spicoli in Fast Times. After that he started taking himself way too seriously.

  11. Its watchable, but here arnie’s age is showing. Still as a fan i would like to watch his movie.

  12. Saw it this morning. This was much better then I expected. This was pure fun.

    • Perfectly said

  13. i haven’t seen it yet but i’m going to see how arnold does in that film. let’s hope it’s a great film like they say. i love arnold, sly and bruce and they are still the best to this day when it comes to good action.

  14. I saw it this morning. Wow! Welcome back Arnie! Very good stand-alone action flick that has Arnie back to physical combat. Especially at the end. Loved this movie & will definatley be buying the blu ray when it comes out! Cant’ wait for “The Tomb” & “Ten”.

  15. I’m so glad I got to see this movie, even if I had to travel a thousand miles to do it (I kid, that’s not the reason I went on my trip). But seriously, this movie was extremely enjoyable and I have no idea why my theaters up here in MA are not carrying it. They have many screens devoted to Hansel and Gretel and Gangster Squad which both got rated worse than The Last Stand… And Gangster Squad is far more inappropriate for the current gun climate since they kill civilians in that film… Like any action movie there are a few points where you just think to yourself “not a chance in hell” but that’s just part of what makes this movie so fun, I left the theater with a big smile on my face.

    Anyways, I’m so glad to have Arnold back on the silver screen, I’ll never get tired of his brand of action and cheesy one liners.

    Welcome back Arnie!

  16. this is one of the worst movies i have seen. who really likes this ? hard to get for me, except extremely low standards. i wouldnt ever shell money out for such a piece of garbage. really a sad thing, and even more sad that there are people which pay for that.

  17. Get to da choppahhhhhh! It’s notta toomuhhhhhh! Who is yoa daddy and what dos he do?

  18. actually just watched this movie his weekend on dvd and really enjoyed it. glad to have Arnold back

  19. Just rented it from my library and I am glad I didn’t spend money on this. Really terrible.

  20. A nice, mindless shoot’em up with larger than life evil characters and a hero bemoaning his age. The FBI was portrayed as bumblers always three chapters behind the arch villain. Typical meaningless babble using ultra violent scenes and big evil looking weapons. This is a perfect example of Hollywood’s and Schwarzenegger’s bottomless pit of hypocrisy; with the Schwarz using guns and violence, laced with his patented moaned one-liners, to make money for himself and others. Their cynical use of guns and violence in their films while bemoaning the ownership of guns by the average American is to me the epitome of hypocrisy. I have tried not to allow politics to color my attitude towards Schwarzenegger but the truth is that I now despise this man and can no longer enjoy the mindless garbage that he plays in so well. He is simply no longer believable as an action hero. He needs to start playing the brains of the outfit or something that doesn’t require too much from him. Being past your prime is not a tragedy but not accepting your new limits is; watching someone desperately denying their limits is painful. And the only death of a good guy was early on; given the bad guys’ fire power there should have been many more. And the later shooting of a deputy by .50 BMG round should have torn his arm off and killed him outright with the shock of the hit. I know of only one man who survived a large caliber hit like that one: A Marine called Chesty Puller took a hit in the chest from a ChiCom .51 cal machine gun round and lived to tell the tale.

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