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'The Last Stand' limp, predictable








Film: "The Last Stand"; Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro, Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzman, Eduardo Noriega and Peter Stormare; Director: Kim Jee-woon; Rating: *1/2

"The Last Stand" is supposed to be a mystery, suspense and action thriller that is Arnold Schwarzenegger's first vehicle since his two-terms as governor of California.

Schwarzenegger stars as Ray Owens, Sheriff of the tiny idyllic Arizona border town of Sommerton Junction, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone on first name basis and every visitor stands odd in the crowd.

Nothing much happens there except for the routine. Till in the early hours of one fine Sunday, the Sheriff is awakened from his slumber, with a call from one of the residents, "Something is amiss as old Mr. Parkinson, the milk man has never skipped his delivery." Owens sends his flunkies Frank (Zach Gilford) and Sarah (Jaimie Alexander) to investigate.

Meanwhile, he gets a call from Los Angeles' FBI agent Bannister (Forest Whitaker) that a fugitive Mexican drug cartel kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) has escaped custody, with the aid of accomplices, and is racing for the border with a hostage in the passenger seat in a stolen high range car that can zoom faster than a helicopter.

While Bannister and his crew try in vain to capture Cortez, Sheriff Owens gathers his small crew. His team consists of the rank newcomer Frank, the goofy veteran Mike Figuerola (Luis Guzman), the pretty and capable female deputy Sarah, her ex-boyfriend who happens to be in the town's lone jail cell (Rodrigo Santoro) and the wacko gun-crazy Lewis (Johnny Knoxville), who gives his weapons pet names.

When Cortez races into town, Owens and his team are ready for him. The rest of the tale is predictable and conformist to a fault. The good and bad guys alike run around with intimidating weapons and menacing accents. Owens ultimately takes matters into his own hands, setting the stage for a big anticipated showdown. With insane amount of gunfire and creative carnage, blood spurts, sprays and sometimes gushes, making you squirm.

The final half-hour, offers some amusing and amusingly violent moments - car chase, high energy shootouts, showdowns and one-liners. But what stands out visually is the intimate car chase through a cornfield.

As for the performances, Schwarzenegger plays himself as a 65-year-old veteran with a blank inexpressive dialogue delivery. The strongest impressions are made by Zach Gilford as the touchingly inexperienced cop and Noriega's diabolical-looking goatee.

Director Kim Jee-woon, in his debut American film, has got most of the components of his film right: the cast, their performances, Ji Yong Kim's sharp HD lensing, Mowg's neo-Western-flavored score and Franco Carbone's well-mounted production design.

Overall, it rounds off as a classy tech package. But the problem is, Andrew Knauer's script. It seems outdated with the story.

Though tailor-made for Schwarzenegger, "The Last Standa" is a huge let down since it relies heavily on cliches and easy payoffs.

Watch it if you have nothing better to do.

 
Troy Ribeiro
 
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