Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Last Stand

Oh it pains me to say this, but... Schwarzenegger may be "too old for this shit". This review may be all over the place, but that's how my brain is when it comes to this movie. And to be honest, a lot of what is actually on my mind has more to do with his career than the film itself.

There are two very gigantic larger-than-life icons of action. And those two are Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's very hard to top them. Yes, you have Bruce Willis. But he was the counter-part to them. The anti-action hero. But with Stallone and Schwarzenegger, you had films that overcame practically everything. And it's not only fun to watch them do so, it can also being inspiring, no matter how ridiculous the circumstance. THAT is what made these two men action icons.

They ruled the 80's. After that, things started to crumble. But only for one. The 90's for Stallone were only decent. His average total box office gross was between $30-40 million. Which in comparison to Rambo: First Blood Part II's $150 million and Rocky IV's $127 million, it doesn't sound great at all. Schwarzenegger on the other hand, 4 of his films crossed the $100-million mark (one of which crossed $200 million [T2]). Come early 2000, though, Schwarzenegger hit the patch Stallone hit the decade prior. Then he did Terminator 3, it did $150 million (though it cost $200 million to make). Schwarzenegger then ran for governator, got elected, and has been out of the leading-man game until now.

When it was announced that Schwarzenegger was making his return with The Last Stand, I actually thought it was a perfect comeback-vehicle for him. An aging Sheriff taking on a drug dealer fleeing to the Mexican border, but has to pass through his town to do so? Perfect. Only... It wasn't so perfect.

When the films starts, it sets up what Schwarzenegger's character Ray Owens is up against. And for the most part, I was on board. Then it transitions into Owens' introduction. And you would think that after getting Arnold Schwarzenegger (fully) returning to acting, you would have a grander entrance. Unfortunately, it was almost like they were introducing a secondary character. And I understand his character isn't larger-than-life, but he still deserved something more... Powerful. But then again, maybe the problem lied in the writing.

The Schwarzenegger-less lead-up to watching Arnie destroy men with bullets wasn't as painful as I expected. They tried to give the heel of the film a back-story and development, which I appreciated. Did I really just want to get to Schwarzenegger cutting people in half with bullets? Yes. But the time between wasn't painful. 20 minutes later, it got to the action. Therein lies a lot of issues. First and foremost, Schwarzenegger is looking his age when he runs. I fucking HATE to say it, but he is. And to be fair, he always ran kind of awkwardly due to his size. He was mostly a gigantic fighting man in film. Not a running man. Despite the fact that he did indeed star in... The Running Man. In The Last Stand he just moves... Old.

Because he moves more lethargic, it tones down the action. Which is unfortunate because this is not a toned-down action film. It' R-rated. There is blood and violence. And a lot of the violence is brought forth because of Schwarzenegger... With a gun. And to be honest, it doesn't take a lot to fire off a gun. It's not until the very end that he gets really physical. And only for a couple minutes at that.

Im sure this isn't going to be a big issue for most, but it was one for me. The acting. Schwarzenegger isn't renowned for his acting abilities. I understand that. Do I think he's horrendous? No. He isn't fantastic, but in a lot of films, his delivery is pretty decent. It's just like Schwarzenegger talking like Schwarzenegger. The problem with this, his line-delivery is very awkward. And not in an awesomely-awkward way. More-so in a "holy-fuck-youre-rusty-as-fuck" awkward way. And it's a shame, because if this film is any indication of the rest of his career... Sheesh.

To the more technical problems of the film. A lot of the shots were an issue for me. In action films, I feel the shots should just flow. Whether they cut really fast, or cut every 15-20 seconds, they should flow. In this, every other 6 shots would seem "off". And who knows, maybe that is due to editing. But some seemed very amateur-esque. And I understand the director who created this film doesn't speak English and needed a translator on set. But maybe THAT was the reason for most of the flaws with the film (and maybe explains Arnold's awkward line-delivery).

The director of the film was Jee-Woon Kim. He's a South Korean director and was responsible for films such as The Good, The Bad, and The Weird and I Saw The Devil. And I can honestly say I haven't seen any of his films until The Last Stand. And unfortunately, I feel the language barrier may have gotten in the way with an American production like this one.

I also think that if the supporting cast had been a little stronger, it would have helped a great deal. Forest Whitaker was a good casting. As was Peter Stormare (who doesn't love that guy?!). But having Johnny Knoxville and Luis Gusman as your sidekicks? You can do better than that. If Michael Caine can be someone's butler and do not a damn thing in 3 films, Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger can get some radical sidekicks.

Before I go into my rant about how aging actors still "having it", I guess I'll conclude on The Last Stand. As a film, it's fun. Is it terrible. Not quite. Is it close to being incredibly awesome dumb fun? Unfortunately, it doesn't even achieve that. It's just... Fun.

In a couple weeks we have Stallone's Bullet to the Head coming to theatres. Am I sold on the film? Yes. Do the trailers help? No. Personally, I hate the trailers. But Im trying to see past the generic modern-metal soundtrack that raped the 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the trailer. And I see a 66 year-old man beating the shit out of people and believable so. I only bring this up because of The Last Stand. Had Schwarzenegger KILLED it in The Last Stand, this review would have ended with "... And we have Stallone's Bullet to the Head to look forward after this". But due to The Last Stand being an underwhelming effort, I have to resort to displaying a true exibit of how a 60+ year-old man can present himself as relevant.

You look at Stallone and you may think too much facial surgery. That's fine. I agree. Do I think he's grown into it? Sure. It looks a little better now then it did before. But one thing that is almost flawless: His body. The motherfucker is in Rocky III-shape. And if you need to be reminded, that was the peak of Stallone's physical shape. And because of his feats today, I proudly say that I am a Stallone-fanatic. And I totally understand that Schwarzenegger had the biggest state to govern for 8 years, so the shape he's in now is due to that. But to be honest, he started losing it even before he even began to think about running for governor.

Arnie has a slew of films lined up in the next coming years. The Tomb (with Stallone), Ten, Unknown Soldier, The Legend of Conan, Terminator 5 and more. Im hoping that he just needed wipe the dust off his soldiers with The Last Stand. Because the amount of films that he has lined up in the short amount of time they're set to be released, I can only seeing it slowing him down.
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