“The Last Stand”: Arnold Does Arnold

Shrewd ex-politico that he is, Arnold Schwarzenegger has made his comeback movie after a decade-long hiatus a modestly scaled action programmer — more Raw Deal than Terminator — that does exactly what it should: It leaves us wanting more. Still sporting (at age 65) the kind of Charles Atlas brawn not much seen at the movies in the no-carb era, and still able to deliver a catchphrase with deadpan savoir faire, Schwarzenegger here plays an ex-LAPD narcotics cop lying low as the sheriff of a sleepy Arizona border town. When a vicious cartel lord (Eduardo Noriega) escapes from FBI custody and heads for Mexico, only lawman Arnold, his posse of crooked-shooting deputies, and a local gun nut (Johnny Knoxville) stand in his way. A veritable feature-length advertisement for assault weapons and the Second Amendment, The Last Stand marks the Hollywood debut of prolific Korean genre director Kim Jee-woon (The Good, the Bad, the Weird; I Saw the Devil), who seems to have tamped down his florid extravagance for American consumption — particularly during the movie's dreary, expository first hour. Then Kim finally lets loose, and the imaginatively choreographed mayhem that ensues — culminating in two fast cars chasing each other across a pesky cornfield—can be a wonder to behold.

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