Making the Grades
Now that he’s finished playing the role of governor of the state of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger is “bach” in a movie that uses an impossibly bad “bad guy” to justify blood laden violence.
The catalyst to all this mayhem is Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), a convicted drug lord that must be transferred to another prison. In charge of the move is FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker). Perhaps I’m still harboring painful memories of Whitaker in Our Family Wedding, but I immediately sense this guy isn’t the man for the job. My instincts prove correct when, not less than a few blocks from the prison, a big electromagnet straight out of a comic book script lifts Cortez’s armored car out of the convey. A couple hundred rounds of bullets later, the fugitive is free and picking up his rental car—a customized Corvette capable of insane speeds and precise product placement. For optional equipment he even manages to kidnap one of Bannister’s agents for a hostage (Jaimie Alexander) before racing to the Mexican border (this ‘Vette must also have a massive fuel tank).
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sherriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) is enjoying life in Sommerton Junction, a small town right on Cortez’s path. The ex-LAPD cop is tipped off that something big is coming after the murder of a local resident reveals Cortez’s thugs, led by Burrell (Peter Stormare) have arrived a day early to clear the way for their chief. When a gunfight kills Owen’s young deputy (Zach Gilford), the Sherriff determines to stop this madman—even as he slips through the hands of the FBI and other federal powers.
Viewers can expect a strange mix of blood-basted action and comedic goofiness (especially thanks to a character played by Jackass star Johnny Knoxville) that will likely propel this film to box office success, as well as add high teen (and adult) appeal. Thankfully sex is limited to a passionate kiss between a driver and passenger in a car doing 120-plus MPH. Violence however is everything you would expect in a R-rated movie with Arnie on the marquee. Countless people are shot with gratuitous blood effects and one character’s torso is dismembered from his legs. Expect many other punches, neck breakings, beatings, and other forms of human cruelty too. And the language is coarse, with well over a dozen sexual expletives, many scatological curses and terms of Christian deity.
Schwarzenegger recently commented that his term as governor has made him a better actor. He does have a tender moment in this film where he brings true emotion to the screen, but otherwise he’s beginning to take on the aging Eastwood look as he peppers the streets with bullets in an attempt to eradicate the drive-through criminals. While we might admire his determination to protect the fictitious citizens of Sommerton Junction, one can’t help but question why we need yet another movie about an evil dude to justifying gratuitous portrayals of explicit violence.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Last Stand.
Why kinds of criminals are popular in action movies today? Have you noticed a change in who the “bad guys” are now versus a decade (or longer) ago?
How do movies like The Last Stand justify the use of violence? With current debates about the regulation of guns in the United States, how might a movie like this influence people’s opinions? Do you think it would make them more supportive of restrictive gun laws or less so? How do our own experiences color how we interpret a movie?
Even though none of the scenes in this movie take place in Mexico, how is that country depicted? How would you feel about this movie if you were a Mexican citizen?
Find out how politics has affected Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting career here: http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/15/arnold-schwarzenegger-im-a-better-actor-now/