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‘The Last Stand’

by Kaori Shoji

They just don’t make movies like “The Last Stand” anymore: so bad that bad becomes the new normal. Directed by Korea’s Kim Jee Woon (“The Good, the Bad and the Weird”), this resurrects the “Governator” aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his first lead role in over a decade. He plays Sheriff Ray Owens, the lone law enforcer who stands in the way of the leader of a drug cartel trying to escape over the Mexican border. At one point someone asks Ray, “How are ya Sheriff?” and he replies: “Old.” In that one word Schwarzenegger packs a whole lot of things — vulnerability, emotion, even a sense of resignation — that we had never seen from him before. Personally, I felt fuzzy all over.

Once you get past the initial tingle, “The Last Stand” quickly shows its true colors, which is to echo past classic Arnie movies (“Commando” leaps to mind) where the action is nonstop, there’s enough ammo to destroy Pluto and the plot is all about relentless car chases (and you see some gorgeously souped-up vehicles here) and a body count that rises until your eyes glaze over. Neither Schwarzenegger nor Kim are interested in doing anything particularly new here — they just want you to know that he’s back, complete with those killer consonants. It’s nice to know that some things never change.