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The Last Stand

The Governator returns in a gun porn fiasco.

DIRECTED BY KIM JEE-WOON

Having spent the better part of the aughts watching his compatriots perfect the revenge genre, Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon set out to cap the decade by besting them all. The result was 2010’s I Saw the Devil, a revenge thriller so sadistically gratuitous that it seemed to implicitly indict viewers for seeking entertainment in such sordid spectacles.

With The Last Stand, Kim brings the same sense of wanton one-upmanship to bear on the Big Dumb American Action Flick. His first English-language feature is the biggest, dumbest shoot-‘em-up to hit multiplexes in recent memory—and, naturally, it stars none other than the biggest, dumbest action hero of them all. The film marks Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to leading-lug status after a decade out of the game, and, by and large, he’s still got it. “It” in this case meaning an imposing screen presence and a painfully wooden way with words.

The former Governator plays the sheriff of a sleepy Arizona town, who finds himself the final obstacle between an escaped death-row inmate (Eduardo Noriega) and the Mexican border. Because Noriega has stolen a really fast car—that’s actually the crux of his cunning plan—he effortlessly evades the FBI, leaving it up to Arnie and his band of scrappy deputies to see that justice is served.

While you can colour us singularly unimpressed, The Last Stand represents a real poser for N.R.A. spokesman Wayne LaPierre. In the organization’s effort to blame violent media for America’s recent rash of tragic shootings, Kim’s film would appear to be Exhibit A. Yet how could any self-respecting rifle-lover chide a film in which a gun-toting granny and a bug-eyed, firearms-fetishizing Johnny Knoxville team up to step in for the inept Feds?

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