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Last Stand, The (AF)

9/10

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander, Eduardo Noriega, Rodrigo Santoro, Genesis Rodriguez, Luis Guzm√°n, Peter Stormare, Harry Dean Stanton, Christiana Leucas

Director: Kim Jee-Woon

Having had his run at the life political as the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger quits politics and returns to his former career, settling down to the business of making money by making movies. Perhaps he has taken his inspiration from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who quit politics for a more commercial career.

So, after the team effort of The Expendables (and an uncredited walk-on in The Expendables 2) Arnie takes centre screen again as a former LAPD cop who has settled for the quiet life as sheriff of a small town in Arizona. The quiet life eludes him, of course, when Mexican drug cartel boss Eduardo Noriega makes an amazing (and hugely exciting to watch as stuntmen more than justify their fees) escape from the FBI in Las Vegas and heads ¬Ė in a souped up car that makes the Batmobile seem staid by comparison ¬Ė towards Schwarzenegger¬ís town, where mobsters led by Peter Stormare are building a bridge across a nearby ravine so that the escapee can drive over the border into Mexico.

Bad move. Arnie and his makeshift posse, which includes Lou Costello-style comic relief Luis Guzm√°n, and Johnny Knoxville as the kind of gun-happy loony that might just inspire Americans to consider voting for gun control. Mind you, that option would be unlikely to be taken up after seeing Arnie and Co - especially Arnie ¬Ė handle their small town shootout in the best tradition of Western movies.

Arnie gets the balance just right. Tough (and looking as leathery as an expensive handbag carried by minor royalty) and relentless, but imbued with an innate sense of humour and an understanding of his character that allows him to stagger into the local diner in mid-attack and agree that he feels old. There’s no attempt to disguise the fact that he’s 65 which I reckon added to the pleasure of his light-hearted but heartless-in-action performance.

In contrast Forest Whitaker’s take on the FBI agent leading the hunt for Noriega is efficient but routine. Noriega clearly enjoys his succulent villainous role, Stormare is a standout and Jaimie Alexander adds requisite glamour.

Ex-PM Blair’s later career has frequently involved him with foreigners. Maybe Arnie is again following his example, since he has as his director, South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon (The Good, The Bad, The Weird, I Saw the Devil) who makes his English-language movie debut by maintaining a fast and furious pace and moving the show swiftly and enjoyably enough for the audience not to need to ponder over any of the less likely plot contrivances conjured up by Andrew Knauer.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by deluxe.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 23 Jan 2013