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The Last Stand (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 107 minutes.

Not for children.

There's a time and place for everything. Bloody, videogame style shootouts have their place in an action movie that is clearly totally divorced from reality like The Last Stand. They do not belong in a movie like the recently released Gangster Squad that makes pretensions of being historically accurate.

This movie is a silly story of good guys, led by Arnold Schwarzenegger versus one bad guy, Eduardo Noriega, who plays a drug kingpin. Just because it's silly, however, does not mean that it is not entertaining, because it is. The first half contains a spectacular escape, and a set up where we get to know Arnold and Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville, and the other members of the cast. The second half, and I do mean at least 45 minutes, is the shoot out.

While you certainly can't envision Schwarzenegger playing Shakespeare, what he does have is charm. He exhibits that here in spades with a joke-laden script by Andrew Knauer, rewritten by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Korean action director KIM Jee-woon does not speak a word of English, but that did not seem to affect his ability to direct Schwarzenegger and the rest. He brought along his director of photography, Ji Yong Kim, who adds some fine car chases (how can one make a movie like this without car chases?) and some interesting camera angles. However, a movie like this really gets its mojo from the music that puts the viewer in the right frame of mind, and this music, by Mowg is exceptional.

The film starts with a short introduction by Arnold talking directly to the audience and telling us that he said he'd be back, and he is. Despite some graphic violence, this is entertaining.