The Last Stand

The Last StandThis is getting boring, get the big gun!

International drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) is being transferred by the FBI to “federal death row”.  But in an elaborate escape plan, headed by Burrell (Peter Stormare), Cortez gets away with Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) in hot pursuit.  Meanwhile, in Sommerton Junction, AZ, Sheriff Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has a dead farmer on his hands.  And, in light of the fact that there were some suspicious characters in the diner the day before, that can mean only one thing.  That’s right, the evil cartel mercenaries intend to bring Cortez through Sommerton, leaving Owens and his ragtag crew of Figgy (Luis Guzmán), gun nut Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville), Deputy Sarah (Jaimie Alexander), and local bad boy Frank (Rodrigo Santoro) to stop them.

The Last Stand (2013), directed by Jee-woon Kim is almost too stupid to enjoy.  It certainly couldn’t be called good on any possibly level.  The film’s only possible ambition is to be mediocre.   Which aspect requires the most criticism?  Would it be the painfully expository dialogue from Andrew Knauer (“…like when you worked narcotics in LA”)?  Or is it the plastic interchangeable female characters?  How about the over-baked acting?  No, the most unforgiveable thing about this movie is its bad pacing and construction.  An action movie like this is only wasting time when it brings out emotional backstory or attempts to establish some vague love angle.  Why even try?  Cut out the corn and leave a simple plot.

The action basically comes down to three or four set pieces.  In between these set pieces, is their terrible desire to create a narrative.  This fails because they are working with entrenched clichés that we are over-familiar with.  Old law man between a bad guy and his escape.  The bad guy is a drug king pin who, unaccountably, has a peculiarly large set of skills.  What’s original about the movie is the fact that the good guys have to fight the bad guys with older, historical weapons.  It’s an interesting idea—and one underlined in the featurette—that never has much importance.  Most of the weapons are simple, contemporary pistols and shotguns.  They don’t use the swords, they don’t set traps, they give up on that idea completely.  In its place are car chases and disturbing amounts of blood.  And, yes, this is a movie where acts of extreme, gruesome violence are supposed to be funny.

Another interesting element of the action being poorly executed is in the bad guys.  As Owens & Co. dispatch the bad guys one by one, I blinked and there was only one left like they weren’t actually that tough to beat.  It seemed like poor timing, but it turned out there was one more set piece to go.  That was a bad idea.  Instead of setting the big showdown in the town, they drive off for a huge chase scene—and, granted, it was foreshadowed at the start of the movie—until the big guy dukes it out with a kid two weight classes under him.  Then, to make matters worse, that fight goes on far longer than it should have.  So if you want an action movie, there are too many out there that play out better than The Last Stand to waste the time.

The funny thing about these “Making Of” features is when these people talk about the movie as if they’re doing something special.  At some point, though, “Not in My Town: Making The Last Stand” becomes sad and then annoying.  It’s almost amazing people make these movies anymore.  Isn’t on-demand going to kill the action hero?  Once we run out of CGI, there will be no more worlds to conquer.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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