The Last Stand
My hand is huge!
We got both a return of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Hollywood debut of Kim Ji-woon with the modern day western The Last Stand. But is the title prophetic and a sign that we should stay away? If you are looking for amazing action and a return to form for an actor turned politician, then you might want to keep waiting. But if you want a good forgettable action flick with some funny parts, then The Last Stand is a passable January release. It isn’t terrible, it’s just we’ve seen much better from both the star and the director, so things come out disappointing. And that’s the worst sting of all.
Kim Ji-woon is no stranger to Westerns, he directed The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, one of the best Western-inspired films ever. He’s also responsible for I Saw The Devil, one of those films that people watch and then describe with a single emoticon of a traumatized face staring into the distance. Kim Ji-woon is the first of three popular Korean directors who are making their Hollywood debut in 2013 (Bong Joon-ho with Snowpiercer and Park Chan-wook with Stoker are the other two.) He’s also the only reason I had any interest in taking the time to see The Last Stand.
I am sorry to say that things are up to Kim Ji-woon’s normal standards of excellence. But The Last Stand isn’t a wash, either. It follows the normal arc progression of a Western with the eventual showdown against the gang by the Sheriff and his deputies. There is a lot of scattered action sequences throughout the buildup, as the cartel leader escapes from captivity then carves his way through increasingly incompetent police roadblocks via increasingly ridiculous ambush attacks.
Minimalist action theater
In the usual Western, the baddies are constantly harassing the town, the people the Sheriff likes and loves, and the danger is more personal. As Gabriel Cortez is more of a guy who is just passing through town, The Last Stand attempts to counter this by having some of his gang in town building an escape bridge. The gang causes trouble and is involved in a firefight with the Sheriff’s office. Though the gang’s leader is played by awesome dude Peter Stormare, the rest are all faceless militia types and there isn’t enough there to make them feel so evil you cheer when the hero kills them.
Police Academy: Honey Boo-Boo