The Last Stand

The governor and the jackass.

So this is what California governors do when they retire? Not exactly. You’ve got to be connected to be invited to act in a dumb action comedy like The Last Stand, the second release of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post-Sacramento golden years — if we count the two Expendables as one movie, which is being generous. Not every ex-guv qualifies. Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian should probably not waste time waiting for that phone call. Only the Terminator could think of his political career as a six-year vacation from Hollywood.

Instead of appearing on Meet the Press or stinking up fairways with his cigars, Arnie portrays Ray Owens, sheriff of Sommerton Junction, Arizona, a peaceful but vigilant burg on the Mexican border. Everyone in town packs a piece, even the little old lady who runs the gift shop. That’s why it’s a bad idea for Gabriel Cortez (Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega), third-generation generalissimo of a Mexican drug cartel, to pick Sommerton as the spot to cross back over to Mexico after he escapes FBI custody in Las Vegas. Sheriff Ray has a secret weapon: Lewis Dinkum, a junkyard owner played by Johnny Knoxville, governor of the Jackass franchise. True to form, Dinkum pulls stupid stunts like climbing a sawed-off utility pole that’s hanging by a live wire, while wearing a Mongolian helmet in the middle of a firefight.

The Last Stand is directed by Kim Jee-woon, Korean helmer of I Saw the Devil, a shocker, and The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a playful riff on spaghetti westerns. His Arnie project — written, rewritten, and supervised by three clowns — is slapdash even at its most coherent (except for a nice car chase in a field of dry corn) but may still be a step forward for Kim. How else would he get to hang out with the guy who delivers the movie’s best line? To the undocumented cartel brat, Sheriff Ray declares: “You’re giving us immigrants a bad name.” That settles that. Next issue, please.


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