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Arnold's back in 'The Last Stand'

11:52 AM, Jan. 17, 2013
Arnold Schwarzenegger proves he's still game for mayhem and one-liners in 'The Last Stand.'
Arnold Schwarzenegger proves he's still game for mayhem and one-liners in 'The Last Stand.' / AP

‘The Last Stand’

Now playing: Bellevue 8, Green Hills 16, Hollywood 27, Malco Smyrna, Opry Mills 20, Streets of Indian Lake 16, Thoroughbred 20, Wynnsong 16
Rated: R, for strong, bloody violence throughout and

language.
Star rating:★★★

More

“The Last Stand” is the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie you didn’t even realize you wanted to see.

This is the action superstar’s first leading role in a decade, having left acting to serve as the governor of California and whatnot, and while it may not have occurred to you to miss him during that time, it’s still surprisingly good to see him on the big screen again.

The script also feels a bit old — “The Last Stand” is essentially an amped-up version of “Rio Bravo,” with some “Jackass”-style hijinks courtesy of Johnny Knoxville himself.

But Korean director Kim Jee-woon keeps things moving briskly and the strong supporting cast doesn’t seem to mind that they’re playing flimsy types. Everyone’s just here for a mindless good time.

Schwarzenegger stars as Ray Owens, sheriff of the tiny Arizona border town of Sommerton Junction, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and the locals sit around the diner trading folksy jokes. That’s why the sheriff is immediately suspicious of some visitors sharing a booth over breakfast one morning — they clearly don’t belong there.

Turns out these new folks (led by Peter Stormare) are there laying the groundwork for Mexican drug kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who’s just escaped federal custody in Las Vegas in elaborate fashion. He’s headed straight for the border at Sommerton with a hostage in the passenger seat in a stolen, souped-up Corvette that can reach speeds of 250 mph.

While FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) and his crew try in vain to chase Cortez, the sheriff and his makeshift posse set up a barricade. And they wait.

His team consists of the innocent newbie (Zach Gilford), the grumpy veteran (Luis Guzman), the pretty and capable female deputy (Jaimie Alexander), her screw-up ex-boyfriend who happens to be in the town’s lone jail cell (Rodrigo Santoro) and the wacko with an arsenal (Knoxville) who gives his weapons pet names.

The shootouts and showdowns are muscular, high-energy and consist of an insane amount of gunfire, although there are some bursts of squirm-inducing, creative carnage.

That this scrappy band of underdogs can take out the more technologically advanced villain and his crew should come as no surprise. It’s as predictable as Arnold saying he’ll be back, and making good on that promise.

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