When news broke about Arnold Schwarzenegger's impending divorce from his longtime wife Maria Shriver (and the infidelity that inspired it), the former action movie star titan put his return to acting on hold and retreated from the limelight.
Jump ahead a couple of months to the present, and the Terminator actor has selected his first post-scandal starring vehicle: The Last Stand, one of numerous projects he was circling earlier this year.
Deadline says that Schwarzenegger has secured a deal to headline the gritty western, which will mark the English-language directorial debut of Korean filmmaker Ji-Woon Kim (I Saw the Devil, The Good, the Bad, the Weird). Cry Macho, the movie previously set to mark Schwarzenegger's return to the acting ring, is reportedly either "dead or at best delayed until February 2012".
The Last Stand will revolve around an aging, but still capable, U.S. sheriff (Schwarzenegger) who must track down the leader of a deadly drug cartel and prevent them from reaching the Mexican border. Although the project was originally being envisioned as a $30 million effort with Liam Neeson in the lead, that price tag will likely change now that the Governator himself is onboard.
Kim has previously offered the following, with regards to his plans for The Last Stand.
“My concept for 'The Last Stand' is that it’s kind of a combination of 'Die Hard' and 'High Noon' where [the latter] was about protecting something very important that needs to be protected, while 'Die Hard' is a very drawn-out, long process that almost kills someone in the process... 'The Last Stand' would be where someone puts their lives on the line to protect something that’s very important and it will be a bit more optimistic film in that regard.”
Needless to say, Schwarzenegger (or, at least his agent) knows EXACTLY what he's doing by moving ahead with The Last Stand next. An old-fashioned adventure tale about an aging, self-sacrificial cowboy who goes out of his way to see that justice is done, reads as being a potentially great return-to-form for Schwarzenegger - one that will portray him in both a heroic light and includes his deteriorating physique as a plot point, essentially.
The Last Stand is also less likely to imitate a recent would-be comeback vehicle for a scandal-ridden star (The Beaver with Mel Gibson) and be virtually ignored at the box office. Fans of Kim's previous films will certainly be interested to see him cross over into Hollywood territory; plus, this is the kind of project a lot of Schwarzenegger fans will want to see.
We'll keep you posted on the status of The Last Stand as more information is released.