Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Admiration for acting may always be heaped in plentiful supply on those who manage to pick the year’s best films to be a part of, but there are certain personalities who regularly carry any project whether it is a box office smash or bomb. Snagging a recent DVD I actually would have seen upon first release had there been an opportunity to see it in theaters, today’s entry fell closer to just scrapping by and featured an actor who is one of the main reasons I enjoy the action genre.
Perhaps his exact style has become more a relic of cinematic days gone by when you didn’t need to have your emotions run through a wood chipper and lovingly pieced back together, but for this child of the 80s/90s it’s good to see once again he hasn’t lost that edge after all these years. It’s perhaps the ultimate reminder of how wonderful it can be to leave any expectations at the door, save knowing the bullets will fly and the cheese will flow. “The Last Stand” doesn’t care how bad it looks, how painful the one-liners are and in the relaxation of standards carries the audience careening through the air of awesome.
Set in Sommerton Junction, Arizona, life is pretty much about as exciting as Mayberry set in the desert and while the citizens could be a little more law abiding, it suits Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) just fine. The biggest worries for the citizens there seems to be following a caravan to the hometown team’s football playoff games and actually looks like the perfect chance for Ray to relax on his day off, versus his days long gone of being a police officer in Los Angeles.
Cue the not so quiet city of Las Vegas where a notorious Mexican drug lord, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), is being transferred into FBI custody when in classic ridiculous fashion manages to escape with a plan to return to his homeland. Warned by agent John Bannister (Forrest Whitaker) of the approaching danger, Ray eventually must make a decision on how far he will go to uphold the law and protect the citizens, forced to rely on reserves like a kooky gun collector named Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) and goof-off Deputy Mike Figuerola (Luis Guzman). Somehow, likely because they don’t try too hard to be serious at all, it all comes together in a blaze of glory and gags worthy of the classics.
I think it really says something when my wife can go from “Couldn’t you have found a guy to watch this with” to having almost as much fun as I had, as it actually builds into some of the best popcorn fare of the year so far. Sure, it’s the kind of violence concerned parents love to go on a crusade about, but as long as you don’t rent it for your six or seven year old kids in the first place, just about anyone can kick back and enjoy.
Some of the funniest moments actually occur when Arnold’s character interacts with the townsfolk and thankfully only one of them is revealed in the trailer. It’s certainly something I’d watch again and might even own later out of the bargain bin. Thus, the final verdict for “The Last Stand” is three out of five wounds.
DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.