Jee-Woon Kim starts shooting his English-language directorial debut, Last Stand, on location in New Mexico next week. Hence the numerous casting updates for the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring action flick, which have popped up over the past month.
Last Stand previously snagged Peter Stormare to play the muscle for its primary antagonist: the most wanted drug kingpin in the U.S. It looks like Spanish actor Eduaro Noriega has officially landed that role.
Variety has confirmed the news about Noriega, who can currently be seen starring opposite Sam Shepard in the Butch Cassidy western Blackthorn. His resume also includes a turn as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in... Che Guevara, a (not) villainous turn in Vantage Point - and fittingly nasty antagonistic roles in the thriller Transsiberian and Guillermo del Toro's supernatural horror tale, The Devil's Backbone.
The plot of Last Stand is jump-started when Noriega's character escapes from prison and races towards the U.S.-Mexico border in a specially-armored vehicle - with a hostage and vicious gang of thugs in tow. There's a Drive Angry 3D joke in there somewhere, but, moving on...
Schwarzenegger is starring in Last Stand as Ray Owens: a man who left the LAPD after mucking up an operation that left his partner permanently disabled - and now serves as Sheriff of a lazy border town called Sommerton Junction, where he works with an inexperienced police force that includes a woman named Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander) and playboy Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro). However, Owens is forced to rise to the occasion and lead his force into battle when it turns out they're the only thing standing between Noriega's drug lord and the border.
You probably recognized some familiar character tropes (ex. the disgraced cop looking for redemption) in that description of Last Stand, which reportedly features a mix of Die Hard-style classic action and the sort of high-octane thrills that've made the Fast and the Furious franchise a huge hit. Kim has proven himself to be effective at executing genre conventions in an exhilarating and creative manner (see: The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil) so there's good reason to think he can do it again with Last Stand.
For an early look at the now 64-year-old Schwarzenegger, check out this Expendables 2 set photo. Don't worry, though, he won't be wearing that shirt in either that film or Last Stand. ;-)
Last Stand rides into U.S. theaters on January 18th, 2013.