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He’s back

Lisa Miller, Lake Tahoe Action
"Last Stand" for The Governator? Probably not, as Arnold Schwarzenegger has four other movies currently in various stages of production.
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The Governator’s still got “it” – the intangible factor drawing viewers to connect with his bold action persona. Once an “A-list” Hollywood star, this three-time “Terminator” famously traded his star power for political muscle in Sacramento, only to learn that running California is like a box office stinker.

Following the election of Jerry Brown, Schwarzenegger starred in a love-child scandal that was followed by divorce from Maria Shriver. Naysayers predicted Arnie would never “be back,” but like so many before them, they underestimated his broad shoulders. While “The Last Stand” is a somewhat flat actioner, Arnie’s got two more films in post-production and two others in preproduction. At 65, rather than slowing down, he appears to be speeding up.

In addition to starring Schwarzenegger as world-weary bordertown sheriff Ray Owens, the film also relies on the shock value of a 1,000-plus horsepower Corvette ZR1, capable of exceeding 200 miles per hour.

The silly script, helmed by Korean director Kim Jee-woon, occasionally hits its comic stride, but never fails to go for the gusto during its action sequences. The director’s most glaring fault is his failure to create tension. The film lacks any major twist, roaring straight ahead as though it can’t get where it’s going fast enough – a miscalculation given a supporting cast that includes Luis Guzman’s lazy and opinionated deputy, Forrest Whitaker’s know-it-all FBI Agent, Peter Stormare’s ranting villain, and Eduardo Noriega’s druglord oozing playboy charm.

The story, thrown together to accommodate its action set pieces, revolves around a Mexican kingpin’s well-funded effort to evade prosecution in the states.

His daring escape in a souped-up Corvette will take the druglord from Los Angeles to a small, Arizona bordertown in record time. The criminal’s main problem comes in the form of Sheriff Ray Owens, who refuses to roll over and play nice.

The film mistakenly believes that the more bombastic each step of the bad guy’s plan, the more fascinated we’ll be. This might be true if that plan also made sense, or if the film was based on a comic book.

Even if it’s been a decade since Arnie’s last starring role, he’s still cooler than any car, and it’s his engine we want the film to rev.


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