The Last Stand Narrowly Holds the Frontline

The Last Stand is what happens when the Terminator becomes a cowboy, and takes some inspiration from Optimus Prime in the process. 

The Last Stand was released in 2013, and was directed by Jee-woon Kim. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sheriff Ray Owens, Luis Guzmán as Deputy Figuerola, and Forest Whitaker as FBI agent Bannister. When a powerful cartel leader escapes FBI custody with a plan to cross into Mexico, the sheriff of a small border town must get ready to try and stop the escape. 

The acting ranges from good to not-so good. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the small town sheriff is good over the top, and works for the film. He is the glue of the film, and is one of the only reasons it works on any level. 

Luis Guzmán adds much comic relief, and has a heroic moment towards the end that was very satisfying to watch. The other deputies, including Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro, Zach Gilford, and Johnny Knoxville are very one dimensional, flat characters. They are pretty good at standing around with their mouths open like fish if that’s what you want from acting in a film though. 

Forest Whitaker is bad over the top. With much unnecessary yelling, his performance is at least somewhat entertaining, but not much else. The film’s villain portrayed by Eduardo Noriega, needs acting lessons. When the film cuts back to him, most times, you’re just waiting for it to cut away. 

The script’s use of parallel structure is well executed. The film provides a satisfying pay off to see all the characters come together in the end. It has some interesting twists and turns throughout that add to the suspense of the film. For example, with what is done with the villain’s hostage around half way through the film. 

The villain’s plan in the film seems a little over complicated, and unnecessary when thinking about it for more than two seconds. We’re told in the film that he’s one of the most powerful, and dangerous man on the planet, yet his plan to cross into Mexico is to pay a group of men to build a bridge over a river, and drive really fast to it? 

Several moments in the script are simply there for nothing more than poorly written exposition. For example, most of Whitaker’s dialogue is exposition, including his introduction scene. 

The atmosphere of the small town, and the chemistry between the characters is very reminiscent of the TV show Longmire, to the point where if you changed some of the story around, it could easily be an episode of the show. 

Chekhov’s Gun utilized here is slightly sloppy. Technically it’s used well, but it felt as if they were last minute decisions so some of the action scenes towards the end made sense. For example there is a very lazy reason for there to be a fast car within the proximity of Schwarznegger’s character, in order to have a car chase at the end of the film. 

Most of the film is shot well. All of the action is heart pounding, popcorn fun, sealed with crowd pleasing moments. For example, there is a part in the film in which a gatling gun from World War Two is placed, and used, in the back of a school bus, and it is as epic as it sounds. All of the end shootout in the town is awesome. Moments like this show how the film clearly understands what it is. 

The director’s over use of the dutch angle shot is headache inducing. Someone needs to sit director Jee-woon Kim down and explain to him that there is a reason this camera shot is rarely used. 

Many of the film’s special effects are not fantastic. The blood effects are the best example of this as, aside from one scene, it does not look realistic at all. 

The film could be likened unto Transformers: Dark of the Moon, in that the entire third act is mythic-like action. Weirdly, both film’s big finales take place on a bridge, but Dark of the Moon’s is gripping and memorable, whereas The Last Stand’s is just two guys really close together not doing much, with the editor trying his best to avoid that perception with lots of quick cuts. 

The Last Stand is filled with extremely entertaining action, and witty one liners. Unfortunately, that’s all the film has to offer and reminds you where the fast-forward button is on your TV remote. 

[My grade for The Last Stand is a C+]

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