Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: The Last Stand

Version I Watched: Redbox rental DVD.

History: Aside from this being Arnold's first lead role since Terminator 3 there isn't a lot of history with this. The movie wound up with somewhat favorable reviews ending up with a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was made with a $30 million budget and it opened in 9th place with only earning $6.3 Million. Overall it made approx. $37 Million, and while it exceeded it's budget it's not quite enough to consider it a success.

Personal History: Wanted to see this when it was in theatres but wound up having my first viewing on home video.

Review: Personally I find a lot of people's obsession with the 80s a bit obnoxious but that's probably because I didn't grow up in that era. Granted many people feel the same way about the 90s, but that's an era I'm also a bit annoyed with, too. And I did grow up through that! One thing I do love about the 80s and 90s, though, are the action flicks. This was in a time when actions movies had a plot of "Good guy. Bad guy. Kill! Kill! Kill!" Sometimes something deeper of a plot would be thrown in there but that usually involved a hostage situation or domination of a country, blah-de-blah-de-blah. One thing I talked about in my Good Day to Die Hard review was that too many action movies now are trying to be James Bond or Jason Bourne instead of straight up action. Granted there's been a market for those types of movies for a long time, it's just that unless something like Crank comes around these days we don't get straight up 80s style action too often. With that said we come to The Last Stand. One of multiple movies that have starred old heroes in new adventures (The Expendables and Bullet to the Head being other examples). When I found out that Arnold would be starring in his own movie for the first time in years I was very excited. Sadly I missed it in theatres cause it wasn't there long due to it being overshadowed by bigger titles (happened to Bullet to the Head, too, but even worse). In the end Arnold clearly didn't break it big with his return to the big screen. But I think it's more so people not being interested in Arnold anymore. I don't believe off the bat that it's a reflection of it's quality. There's tons of amazing movies out there that didn't do so well at the box office, some of which were flops. I'm writing this opening paragraph before I watched it so it is an early, uninformed perspective. So let's sit down and watch it.

Before I continue I do want to give context to how I went into it. I don't really get too excited for anything anymore despite stating my excitement to see Arnold on screen again. I try not to let hype or excitement overshadow what it will logically turn out to be. Even when, let's say, I was literally quoting "I wanna see Expendables 2 like a fat kid wants cake" I still left open the possibility it could be really bad. But I wanted to see it opening weekend, which I did. My Dad and I went and we both really enjoyed it. So as excited as I was to see Arnold back on the big screen outside of a cameo I was excited. But I knew, I KNEW that it wouldn't be the same because that's asking way too much. Why would I want to see something that's the same as before anyway? Well in a sense I did because I was hoping it would have elements of his previous work that made Arnold who he is. No I wasn't looking for a remake of Terminator 2 or The Running Man, but I was looking for that charm that made those movies great. In short I went in with semi-low expectations. I was wondering if I would be too critial or too forgiving because I'm such a big fan. Turns out in this situation it would be both. Enough beating around the bush. Let's get to brass tax.

In concept the movie is old school and very Arnold-esque. A small town cop defends his town from a kingpin who is racing through it to escape the country. It's a story about the "little" guy rising up against a big force to fight for what's right and just. What does that sound like? Sounds like something like Die Hard. But another thing I was worried about going in was Arnold's age. This guy is older than my dad so I bet he's not all there in his health anymore. But I think we can all agree he could still beat the shit out of any of us in his sleep any day of the week with just his feet. But being tough doesn't always trump being old. Which brings me to my first complaint with the movie. I don't know if this is how it was just written or because of the previously mentioned "health concern." But Arnold showed up right away in the movie but then was barely in it for about 30-40 minutes. And then when he showed up again his character had little to no involvement for at least another 10 or so minutes. My wife watch a little bit of this with me. Around half way through she turned to me and said, "I thought you said this was a Schwarzenegger movie." Well that's what the DVD cover and the trailer told me. So far I'm not crazy about the movie's execution.
Not necessarily because of a lack of Arnold. As long as he's used well on screen that's what matters. It's just that the opening plot giving the background on what's happening and why was too long. It's like if Die Hard focused more on what Severus Snape was doing before he got to the skyscraper and held everyone hostage. But that's not what happened. He showed up and shit went down. And it was excellent. Why did we need so much exposition with this enemy? Why couldn't more time be spent in Arnold's town? Give me more story with the hero than the villain! And most of all, why does the government have to be involved in everything? Yep, something you should know by now annoys the hell outta me. The government always seems to get involved in some way shape or form. Everything these days has to be a sleek spy thriller or a crime drama. Can't stand it. Thankfully here it didn't have as much of it as A Good Day to Die Hard. That one was loaded with it. It's just that this would have been much more enjoyable if less was known about the enemy, it's was mostly or entirely set in Arnold's territory, and it wasn't high level government authority getting involved. It was the cops against the bad guy. That would have been silly fun action. Throw in a few more one liners as well and we're good as gold.
So I guess my biggest beef with this movie is the first half. It was far from necessary to see that much back story for the bad guy. This isn't James Bond. This is about the small town cop fighting a powerful fugitive. We don't need to get to know the entire bad guy's story before he shows up. That can be done through more creative exposition. Just show up, bang bang bang, Arnold's on the job.

Once it did get to Arnold's town and Arnold was in the driver's seat I must say I was pretty underwhelmed. They were made aware of the threat coming through so once it's actually in the town it felt like a lot of time was spent getting ready for the fight. This provided some more comic relief that was more boring than anything else. One subplot revolved around Johnny Knoxville's character and the crimes he's committed over the years. There's the irony in how he's beem such a bad guy and is now needed with all his weapons to help fight the bad guys coming through town. This part got more boring than anything as they were trying too hard to extend the run time of the movie, or that's what it felt like. So when it finally got to the Arnold action I was bored and tired of waiting so what they gave me wasn't exciting enough for the wait. Granted some of the action in the last act of the movie were pretty awesome. Like when they had a car chase in a wheat field so it was a guessing game on where each other was. Then of course spoilers spoilers the good guy wins and everyone goes home happy.
As I'm getting to this point I'm coming to realize I didn't have as much to say about this as I thought I did. I wouldn't say it was a bad movie cause there were plenty of redeeming values. If anything it was sub-par. There were a lot of things that I felt should have been re-worked or polished to make it better overall, but instead we got this. Some laughs, some cool action. So it may be worth the dollar rental at redbox for a quick fix but otherwise it's hard to recommend. Don't shy away, though. Give it a shot. Maybe you enjoyed it more than I did. I just spent way too much time waiting for Arnold, and then when he showed up I wasn't as excited as I hoped I would be. If you want a better throwback action movie then just go with the Expendables or Expendables 2. But now I want to see Bullet to the Head to see why Stallone had the worst opening sing Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot.

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