Monday, February 4, 2013

The Last Stand (2013)

Seen: At the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, and we had the theater all to ourselves!

The beginning of the year is usually marked by sub-par action movies that I see anyway because I'm a sucker. But in 2013, thank goodness, we've been treated to at least one solid action flick thanks to a surprisingly great cast and the directing talents of Kim Jee-woon. The Last Stand stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ray Owens, a one-time LA narcotics officer who opted to become sheriff of a little town in Arizona when he'd had enough of the action. After formidable South American drug lord Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escapes FBI custody in Vegas, he and his merciless crew of outlaws plan to ride through Ray's small border town to escape to Mexico. Despite the FBI's (led by Forest Whitaker) idiotic refusal to help Ray out, the sheriff pulls his own team together to stop Cortez from crossing.

I know most people have been ragging on this movie pretty hard, and I'm honestly not sure why. It's like they've all forgotten that Arnold Schwarzenegger is awesome, and Kim Jee-woon is freakishly talented? I mean, The Last Stand isn't perfect but dang is it FUN. There's just enough plot to keep things moving forward, with a range of exciting action sequences from a daring helicopter/car chase to a brutal fistfight of a final showdown. (All the car scenes are almost too cool, I wonder if Kim secretly wants to make a Fast/Furious movie?) It's just self-aware enough to make a couple of "old" jokes but never distracted by it, focusing instead on keeping up the pace and knocking around some fun characters. And hating on the FBI, like, seriously. This movie hates the FBI.

For the first half hour there was an exciting new cast member every few minutes- Luis Guzmán, Peter Stormare, Forest Whitaker, Harry Dean Stanton, Jaimie Alexander, Eduardo Noriega, Sonny Landham. Going into this, I only knew about Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville, so all these friendly faces were a nice surprise. Most of the characters fill a familiar archetype, but everyone does such a great job in their roles that it's not a detriment to the film, and in fact adds to the overall Western-feel. This could have easily been some phone-it-in, stupid action movie with an uneven tone, but in such capable hands everything comes together really well and it's just a swell time. So stop being mean to it! BE NICE TO THE LAST STAND, YOU GUYS.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: Well old people action makes me think of Red, and indeed there was a trailer for Red 2 before this movie. Or if you want more Kim Jee-woon (WHICH YOU SHOULD), check out The Good, The Bad, The Weird or I Saw the Devil.

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