Sunday, January 20, 2013

Last Stand, The (2013)


The Last Stand is not a movie; it is a paid advertisement for Chevrolet.  Before you see Arnold, you see the Chevy emblem on the front of his Silverado.  We see a shiny red Camaro in the next scene.  Finally, a Corvette ZR1 is a supporting character in this film and gets more screen time than Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville combined.  Minutes of dialogue are devoted to how it is a concept car stolen from a show, how it has over 1000 horsepower, and how it can outrun a helicopter.  

If you are a bad guy on the run from the law, why would you deliberately hop into the most visible and recognizable vehicle imaginable on the road from Las Vegas to the Mexican border?  If you take a Chevy Malibu, you could at least blend in.  Ah, but then where would the chase scenes go?  Unlike a Malibu, this Corvette car-of-the-future can turn off every single light and drive by an infrared screen.  The Corvette can go underneath an SUV, flip it over, and have the ensuing scratch marks on the hood look like an off-road racing stripe.

There are three writers listed on The Last Stand's credits and they are listed as Andrew Knauer - screenplay, Jeffrey Nachmanoff - rewrite, and George Nolfi - writing supervisor.  I don't think I have ever seen that before.  The producers hired a guy to write this story, another guy to re-write it, and a third guy to make sure they wrote something resembling a screenplay around the featured players aka the cars.

The Last Stand is a loose remake of High Noon; however, I do not remember Gary Cooper standing around while the corporations of the day flooded the screen with their wares.  Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a small town sheriff on the U.S./Mexico border and is there to appreciate the quiet life.  His deputies are under-trained goofballs (Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford), the town drunk is a former Marine who will readily remind you of his Iraq and Afghanistan service (Rodrigo Santoro), there is a maniac with an extreme firearm fetish (Johnny Knoxville), and the majority of the townspeople drove to a high school football away game for the weekend so there are only a handful of characters left to follow.  

Back in Vegas, FBI Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) is in charge of an extremely large and blatant convoy transporting a Mexican drug lord, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), from some nameless place to some other nameless place to be executed.  Through a ridiculous and Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner scene of escape, Gabriel eludes an entire FBI task force, takes an FBI agent prisoner, and hops into the Corvette ZR1 for the rest of the movie.  Driving at speeds between 120 and 180mph, Gabriel races south through police roadblocks, SWAT convoys, and will try and cross the border at Sheriff Ray Owens's outback town.  Thank goodness his small town has its own firearm fetishist with an armory double the size of any guerrilla warfare outfit.  

Give Arnold Schwarzenegger a little credit for trying out a new character.  While his contemporaries Stallone and Willis continue to pump out Rocky and Die Hard movies, Schwarzenegger is jumping back into the film industry, post-Governator, in a different (and regurgitated) movie formula.  He could easily have requested another Terminator movie.  Perhaps after The Last Stand inevitably tanks at the box office, another Terminator installment will be on the way to recoup some monetary losses.  After some really atrocious acting on Arnold's part, a machine would be the perfect character for him to try next.  The Corvette ZR1 and Camaro give more convincing performances than Arnold.

In High Noon, it was Gary Cooper against the world.  He was the lone man to stand up to the bad guys coming to town because it was his responsibility to do so.  This concept is now abducted, stretched thin, filled with inane and cartoonish sidekicks, and is saddled as a comeback vehicle for a former major action superstar.  I feel bad for the sheriff against the world concept, it deserves better than The Last Stand.   

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