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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Last Stand

Title: The Last Stand

Is There Really Such A Thing As A "Sleepy Border Town" These Days? Maybe on the one between Canada and North Dakota.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three sides of beef out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Mexican drug lord escapes federal custody and makes a run for the border (heh), where the only one who can stop him is a small town sheriff with a curious accent.

Tagline: "Retirement is for sissies."

Better Tagline: "From my cold dead hands."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Mexican cartel chief Gabriel Cortez (Eduard Noriega) is the Most Dangerous Man Alive, according to the FBI. So they really shouldn't be all that surprised when he escapes from a heavily armed convoy in Las Vegas and makes a beeline for Mexico with a captured agent in tow. For a variety of increasingly nonsensical reasons, the only man who can stop him is "Ray Owens" (Arnold Schwarzenegger) the sheriff of a sleepy Arizona border town, and a handful of makeshift deputies.

"Critical" Analysis: What was the last good movie Arnold Schwarzenegger made? You have to go back pretty far, well past either of the Expendables flicks (and he was barely in the first one) or Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. 1994? True Lies? 1991 and Terminator 2? My favorite movie of his is still Predator, and that's 26 years old.

The point is, the Austrian Oak is far removed from his heyday, so perhaps it's no coincidence he's decided to return to his comfort zone for his first leading role since governing California. And make no mistake, The Last Stand has its legally obtainable gunsights set squarely on those with fond memories of watching steadfast heroes (and the occasional heroine) exercising their Constitutionally sanctioned right to turn bad guys into Swiss cheese.

The plot is just this side of ridiculous: After Cortez engineers a daring rescue from the hands of the FBI in Las Vegas (led by Forest Whitaker in a state of perpetual near-aneurysm), he sets off in a Corvette ZR1 with a captured agent (Genesis Rodriguez) for insurance and races to Sommerton Junction (or sometimes just "Sommerton," like they never settled on a final name), Arizona. There, his men (led by Peter Stormare in a state of perpetual near-nihlist) are building a bridge to get him across the border to FREEDOM.

Yeah, I know. At one point, a Bureau auto expert helpfully explains the ZR1 is faster than any helicopter, precisely because we have to justify why he's in a car (Cortez is also a formidable race car driver, which explains his prowess eluding capture on the highway). And of course the Feds have shut down all nearby airfields, because there's NO WAY the world's most powerful criminal could procure a jet for taking off along the completely deserted highways of southern Arizona.

But you can't let yourself get hung up on, you know, *logic* and *facts* and *police procedures* and *why a guy named "Owens" is speaking in a guttural Austrian accent*. It all reminds me of an interview Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell gave back in their Louder Than Love days about the song "Big Dumb Sex," pointing out the word "dumb" was right there in the title.

For The Last Stand, the equivalent is probably featuring Johnny Knoxville in the film's poster.

With its ridiculous car chases, comedic violence, and -- well -- Arnold, The Last Stand is the most faithful 80s action movie reimagining I've seen in a while. Once director Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil) finally kicks things in gear, it's actually pretty enjoyable. *How* enjoyable depends on your ability to shrug off what is essentially a handjob to the right to bear arms (one little old lady saves the day by blowing away a bad guy who trods upon her doilies) or getting bludgeoned over the head by the incompetence of the federal government.

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As for Arnold, he was never what you'd call a "graceful" presence. His brand of action movie depended more upon his ability to crush his enemies (plus lamentation of women, etc) rather than finesse. In that regard (and unlike, say, Harrison Ford). it's easy to buy him as an aging warrior kicking ass one last time.

Until the inevitable Clint Eastwood team-up, that is.

The Last Stand is in theaters today. GET TO DA CINEMA!

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