Friday, August 23, 2013

The Last Stand

Directed by Kim Jee-Woon.
2013. Rated R, 107 minutes.
Eduardo Noriega
Jaimie Alexander
Zach Gilford
Christiana Leucas

Once upon a time, the release of an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick meant I was spending a Friday or Saturday in a crowded theater inhaling popcorn while the guy with the thick accent flexed muscles I didn't even know existed, kicked all sorts of ass, and dropped some of the corniest/funniest one-liners ever barked by a monosyllabic action hero. If you had told me that he would eventually go on hiatus from movie making to become governor of California, I would've shunned you for violating the number one commandment of First Lady Nancy Reagan and obviously not just saying no. Google it, if you must. I’m in no mood to explain the jokes, youngster.

Anyhoo, in his first starring role since leaving office, The Governator picks up right where he left off. Sorta. He plays the sheriff of an Arizona town that borders Mexico. By the way, every time I have to type the word ‘sheriff’ I have to spell check it. I can never remember if there are two Rs, or two Fs, neither, or both. This is funny, to me at least, for two reasons. The first is that I won my sixth grade school spelling bee, placed sixth in the district bee so I wasn't that many steps from horribly butchering some word of Latin origin (or Greek, or Russian, or Japanese, etc.) on national TV. Wait a sec, the national spelling bee wasn't televised back then. I don’t think. Whew, that was close (not really). The second reason I find this humorous is because I never ever have to check how to spell Schwarzenegger. Never. You could wake me from a dead sleep after a long night of binge drinking and I wouldn't miss a letter. Not one. S-C-H-W-A-R-Z-E-N-E-G-G-E-R.

Oh, where are my manners? You’re here about a movie, right?

Let’s talk about this Arizona town Ah-nuld protects. It’s one of those rinky dink places where much of the population is of retirement age and everyone is on a first name basis with everyone else. The police almost never see any action. In fact, the most exciting thing we see them do early on is take target practice with the local nut-job played by Johnny Knoxville with an overly phallic handgun. By them, I mean almost the entire force. This includes the T-800, Deputy Mike (Guzman) and Deputy Jerry (Gilford). There is also Deputy Sarah (Alexander) who is back at the office missing out on all the fun.. By the way, Deputy Jerry makes plans for the very near future which Conan the Barbarian is more than happy to help him with. Poor guy. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, imagine that he’s in his sixties and retiring in two weeks. If you still don’t get it you've obviously never seen an action movie before.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the feds are transporting Cortez (Noriega), a dangerous Mexican cartel boss from one institution to another. If you guessed he would make a daring escape thanks to his private army and head right for Terminatorville in hopes of crossing the border, give yourself a cookie. Take two if you guessed he’d be driving a suped up Corvette at 200 miles per hour for most of the movie. From there? Wow. Just. Wow.

What does wow mean? It means that on top of the normal action flick ridiculousness I was totally ready for, I got an unexpected trip back to the land of low budget 70s movies. Think about those old pictures, or go watch some if you haven’t. Take note of how many times you can clearly see the stunt-person. Believe it, or not, we get that here. My apologies to anyone involved in the making of this film if I’m incorrect. However, there a few occasions when I looked at the screen and couldn't help but say aloud “That’s not Arnie!” I even had to change the noun once or twice to Luis Guzman. Hilarious.

Now we can add the action itself. I did say it’s ridiculous, didn't I? It’s actually a bit beyond that, particularly with regards to the Corvette our bad guy whips around in. This thing is apparently a supercharged mini-tank. Were the Fast & Furious folks on this dedicated team of auteurs? Even with that, our zany mixture is not complete. Stir in Forest Whitaker, as the head fed, chewing every bit of scenery he could find, a blatant but still lackluster romance between our lady cop and a deputized prisoner, Johnny Knoxville going full-on gun-happy imbecile, and Commando dropping one-liners (sometimes one-worders) and I just can’t keep from laughing giddily throughout. Once again, my immune system fails me in the face of unabashed cinematic crap. This is so bad it’s awesome!

MY SCORE: -10/10

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