THE LAST STAND"My honor is not for sale."
(18 Jan 2013) Director: Kim Jee-woon
I went to see The Last Stand Thursday, January 17th before it officially opened. Couldn't wait to see Arnold back in Action Movies in a leading role. For the most part, I liked a lot about it (I will pay, again, to see it—I never pirate movies and I love the big screen). The driving was astounding! I couldn't believe how good the stunt driver(s) must be. At one point I was wondering "How did they do that!?" If the stunts are great, enough shit blows up, stuff crashes, guns are huge, well, you get the picture . . . I'm happy.
The car in the movie is a Corvette ZR1. It's faster than a helicopter (!).
And it's being driven by a slick-shit-race-car-driving-is-his-hobby drug dealer. There's zip lines and a giant magnet and a 1939 Vickers gun. Oh yeah, it's a gun-worshipping movie! "Do you have stupid names for all your shit?" "Only the shit I love." Here's a photo of "Vicky" from IMFDB (Internet Movie Firearms Database).
I don't know what I was expecting from this older version of Arnold. I had kind of given up because, at some point I knew he had passed ever being Conan again or The Terminator, but then today (1/22/13) there was this news about T5; there's even talk of an older version of him being in a Conan movie.
In this movie, he plodded along showing his age, and they had a little fun with that. Arnold was in on the joke, of course. He has that Arnold way of walking. As he spoke, and the accent was still there, still in full effect, I had to laugh because how long has he been here that he still speaks with such a thick accent?! But we LOVE it! (He says "motherfucker" too. You gotta love that!)
The movie was cool. It had cars, carnage, weapons, vehicles, car chases, explosions, and some good lines: When Forest Whitaker asks about the ZR1 "How am I supposed to stop that?" the answer is what any Action Movie Freak would say "Blow it up!" I guess the word I am looking for to describe the movie is "deliberate". For all it's cool stuff, it seemed a little too planned or staged, as if they had great storyboards, and then just assembled the scenes they shot into a movie. There wasn't enough flow. I found it a little choppy.
Movies that give you some insight into the leading character and some direction or goal to accomplish right up front so you root for them, are more satisfying than movies that just go from Point A to Point B in real time. They did tell Arnold's story later, but it really just explained why he was living where he was, and that he was capable. They missed out on an On Deadly Ground kind of feel for this movie. You don't just use Arnold as a Sheriff, you talk shit about him and build him up, so that when he steps in to do what the FBI can't, you're fired up cause you know what's coming!
From the trailer and stills, I thought that's what this scene with Johnny Knoxville feeding the rounds of ammo was going to be about. Finally getting Arnold to fight. I was wrong. He's kind of ahead of the game the whole time.
The plot wasn't complicated (understatement!), so
you knew Arnold would be the one to end up stopping the bad guy. I
was willing to overlook all the ridiculous misses the bad guys had when
shooting (their aim must totally be for shit), which allowed Arnold's
outmanned and ridiculously small group to triumph, but when *SPOILER* Arnold threw the
bad guy down onto a metal rail and he got back up again, that was too much suspension of disbelief. You thought
for sure the bad guy's back or neck was broken, but he rose again like it wasn't
that bad (but it was). I remember reaching to justify it, but thinking, it's not
just some old man, he's an old
Mr. Olympia. It might happen that he
beats the shit out of a young guy, okay, but when he deals a fatal blow
like that smackdown, the guy should stay down. At least the fight scene seemed more
believable than the shootout in town. Arnold is a bit like a redwood
(that's a good thing). He's big and he just stands there, and you know
you can't take him down.
Going in, I was excited about the Director, Kim Jee-woon, because The Good, The Bad, The Weird was so over-the-top budget wise and reach wise (OMG the ending—reel it in!), I wondered what he would do with Arnold. This movie seemed like an exercise in control, but maybe too much the other direction. Maybe next time, he will strike a balance. Both movies were fun. The Good, The Bad, The Weird had such an epic scope it reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia. (And that's a good thing unless you're making an Action Movie.)
I would have felt this movie was dumbed down for American audiences except that I find a lot of Asian movies (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai to generalize, unfairly) too emotional and simplistic—don't get me wrong the fighting is always fantastic!!! Recently I watched Kill Zone for the first time with no subtitles. That's a perfect example. From Seven Samurai to Merantau, there's just too much emotion for an Action Movie. Merantau is really a great Movie, period. It just happens to have Action in it. I want an Action Movie to be about the Action first, not too much story. I don't want to feel all sappy and good inside about humanity and how we are all the same across all nations and races. (As noble and needed as that is.) I want to come out feeling fired up like I should punch somebody. Nnnnh!
Hate on me if you want (firstname.lastname@example.org) but this is a mainstream, mostly American, Action Movies fansite. No, I am not American myself, but . . . when it comes to Action Movies, I'd rather not read subtitles. Not saying I won't, I just prefer to look at the Action, not at the bottom of the screen. Reading is like homework. Give it to me in the face, don't make me think too much or care too much. That fight scene at the end of Kill Zone is worth the little kid heartstring pulls. Some emotion is necessary, but don't spend hours getting to the Action. And most importantly, it's no fun if someone isn't taunting the shit out of someone, getting under their skin, and generally wreaking havoc. Even without words I understood, Kill Zone did that—taunting, wreaking havoc, getting under someone's skin—and the Action was liberal throughout. This movie did a good job of having surprises in the Action all the way through, but the story line for Arnold was just too thin. The villain upstaged him (Eduardo Noriega, at right, kind of creepy/sexy in this role).
A great example of an emotional Action Movie that works is Robocop. Emotion is why is works, but they do it right. They keep the Action going throughout and everyone talks shit all the time, and while it's about Revenge, it's really more about how cool the Super (Robot) Cop is. That's what we really care about.
What's my point? My point is the town setting and the townspeople. Just too simplistic. I hated that they wouldn't leave the cafe. I just thought that was dumb. It was like watching the landlady in Kung Fu Hustle. I really hate her. I don't want townspeople in the movie getting in the way or being dumb unless they take up arms like Invasion U.S.A. The whole movie seemed like an Asian Action Movie made in an American setting in English with American actors. It was just off. Am I allowed to say that? I did anyway :-/.
This movie is called "The Last Stand" but it didn't capture that last stand feeling like Aliens did when they retreated, and set up the robot sentries as defense posts to buy time to get off the planet. Whose last stand was it? The old Sheriff who doesn't want to fight anymore, but maybe has one more good fight in him? He seems to just be doing his job.
The trailer was also misleading in that they made you think a convoy of drug dealers had to be stopped, but it was just one car. (You know you were waiting to see this monster smash through Arnold's town or how he was going to stop it. What it was really about was the drug dealer being "over the line". He was trying to get over a literal line, the border to Mexico. When the character Jerry is killed, if it had been set up better, Arnold could have been pushed over the line to fight back. It always struck me as odd that he left law enforcement because of what happened in L.A., but here he is still a Sheriff. Those kind of life changing things, giving up your career, moving to another place, are usually complete, not just transposed.
I thought the last stand would be Arnold deciding to fight one last fight to keep the bad guy from getting through at all costs because everyone else had failed, but no one else tried too much (one road block and the real manpower was in the wrong place). Instead, it's about Arnold fighting back/going over the line (which you think he was going to anyway) when they kill Jerry, but that is not emphasized much. It's just like he is who he is and the bad guy can't get past him. Arnold becomes the line.
For all my grousing about the movie, I enjoyed it and will see it one more time. I put it on the "Good" list, but I probably would not own it or watch it again in the future. I'm looking at this car, and I just can't help thinking. How much fun would it have been if Nicolas Cage was the drug dealer? LOL
Gone In 60 Seconds: "Let's Ride."
87Eleven Action Design
| Chad Stahelski + David Leitch