The Last Stand (2013)

Director: Kim Jee-woon
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville
Plot: The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.

Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller

Awards: -
Runtime: 107min
Rating: NC16 for strong bloody violence throughout, and language.




“Welcome to Sommerton!”

The Last Stand is a significant film for two reasons: First, it is Arnold Schwarzenegger's answer to Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head (2013) and Bruce Willis' A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). Second, it is Korean director Kim Jee-woon's response to Park Chan-wook's Stoker (2013) and Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer (2013), upcoming made-in-the-US films helmed by South Korea's master filmmakers.

Following Park and Bong, The Last Stand is Kim's first foray into Hollywood, a playfully fun action-comedy that provides two hours of quite solid entertainment.

Schwarzenegger heads the cast as an old town sheriff named Ray Owens. His team of four attempts to stop a speeding modified Corvette driven by a notorious leader of a Mexican drug cartel. The villain, with the help of reinforcements, speeds past countless road blocks, and easily evades the FBI.

He heads towards Ray's town in a bid to cross the US-Mexican border, and there is only one way to stop him - the old-fashioned all guns blazing Schwarzenegger way, or as his character cornily puts it, the "Welcome to Sommerton!" way.

Action fans will be pleased to know that The Last Stand contains well thought out action set-pieces that are shot in style, in particular the baddies' attempt to attack a FBI convoy with a giant magnet in an audacious rescue operation. This entire sequence is reminiscent of  certain moments in Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008), a key influence I feel in Kim's work here.

The final 40-odd minutes, a tour de force in action filmmaking sees Ray's team putting up a strong, albeit unconventional defence against the thugs. It does not stop there, building up in momentum until the final showdown between the hero and the villain.

Kim, whose previous work was the ultraviolent I Saw the Devil (2010), does not hold back when it comes to portraying blood and gore. However, the strong violence is somewhat mitigated by the film's playful tone, which plays to Schwarzenegger's strengths as an aged action star who spouts cheesy lines in a foreign accent.

The Last Stand does feature a better-than-average story than most action movies out there, and is generally a well-made picture. Kim continues to show his versatility as a filmmaker, after doing horror (A Tale of Two Sisters, 2003), a sort of Korean Western (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, 2008), and the crime drama (A Bittersweet Life, 2005). Schwarzenegger, well... let just say he's back in fine form.

Verdict: A quite solid action-comedy with Schwarzenegger back in form and versatile Korean director Kim Jee-woon showing what he can do in Hollywood.


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