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The Last Stand(2013)
A drug cartel leader busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexico border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.
For more about The Last Stand and the The Last Stand Blu-ray release, see the The Last Stand Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 8, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Stormare, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzmán, Jaimie Alexander
Director: Kim Jee-woon
» See full cast & crew
The Last Stand Blu-ray Review
Stand and deliver.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 8, 2013
What's a former Governator to do when his political career has come to a screeching halt and his former illustrious film career is a mere shadow of its formerly extremely beefy self, both due to the inexorable effects of aging as well as to well publicized personal foibles? Arnold Schwarzenegger has had some major image rehabilitation to undertake after the disastrous announcement of his affair with a longtime housekeeper which had resulted in an illegitimate child, and perhaps wisely Ah-nuld chose to stay at least partially out of the limelight, choosing supporting roles in films like The Expendables and its sequel while also hawking his not particularly well received autobiography. Schwarzenegger found himself in a (self created) unfortunate position when the revelations about his personal life made front page news around the world, and that resulted in the postponement and/or outright cancellation of several film projects he had already lined up to fill up his empty days since his term as Governor of California was coming to an end. But rather surprisingly, The Last Stand marks the first actual starring role for Schwarzenegger in a decade, more or less. Not since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines has Schwarzenegger essayed this much screen time and it becomes almost instantly obvious as The Last Stand gets underway that he was hedging his bets on this return, making his big screen starring reappearance in an outing that is resolutely predictable and unchallenging, and which may have been intentionally crafted to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but which ends up being a lot more entertaining than it probably has any right to be.
There is no denying that there is a cut and paste aspect to a lot of The Last Stand, but what may surprise some at least is the disparate source material that has been pirated for this particular casserole. The film takes place in a sleepy little Arizona town called Sommerton, which for all intents and purposes could be any village out of the storied Wild West. Schwarzenegger portrays Los Angeles transplant Ray Owens who is the Sheriff of this fairly crime free burg. Ray (of course) has a past that has resulted in him leaving the big city for the "charms" of this one street enclave, but his stress free existence is about to be put to a major test as The Last Stand gets underway. Films as disparate as High Noon and Hostage have had certain elements "borrowed" for this new film, but the good news is that despite an undeniable déjŕ vu quality to much of the proceedings, the film moves along at an exceedingly brisk pace and delivers several excellently staged set pieces, as hyperbolic as some of them are.
The film actually starts with a kind of amusing prelude where we see a California State Highway Patrolman downing a donut (really?) by the side of the road when something immensely fast zooms by him. When he sees his radar gun is registering 197 mph, he phones in a report that someone is flying a jet plane without lights on. That of course turns out to be wrong, in spades. We segue to Sommerton, where Sheriff Owens is enjoying his day off, something that starts to go awry when he becomes suspicious of two guys in the local diner who are ostensibly long distance truck drivers. We soon meet Ray's misfit bunch of deputies, all of whom would basically make Barney Fife look like a genius. But Ray soon has other, bigger problems on his hands.
The film ping pongs to the supposed transfer of a notorious drug cartel crime boss named Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), a transfer which is being overseen by FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker). Needless to say, things don't go according to plan, which is the first moment that The Last Stand tips off what will become its kind of regular over the top stock in trade. How does Cortez escape, when he's manacled in the back of an armored truck and surrounded by a convoy of heavily armed agents? Why, with a giant magnet, of course, which yanks the truck out of the convoy and deposits it on the top of a Las Vegas skyscraper. Cortez has all his ducks in a row, including having hired scores of people to run through the streets in orange jumpsuits, so that the FBI doesn't know who is Cortez and who isn't (since they haven't yet figured out he isn't even on the ground anymore). Some audience members may be prone to rolling their eyes and giving up at this moment of undeniable absurdity, but the fact is the sequence is very well staged if absolutely unbelievable.
It turns out the "jet" the state trooper misidentified earlier in the film was actually a souped up Corvette which is delivered to Cortez as a getaway car. That sets up the middle section of the film where Bannister watches as Cortez, who has taken a beautiful FBI agent hostage, manages to evade one trap after another as he races his car toward the Mexico border. Can you guess what little Arizona town Cortez heads for to make his escape into his native country?
That then sets up the over the top finale of the film, when a bunch of Cortez's henchmen, including the two "truckers" Owens spotted early in the film (and who went on to murder a local townsman), start to wreak havoc around Sommerton even as Cortez approaches. Owens and his ragtag assortment of real deputies and civilians whom Owens has deputized on the spot, spring into action to take out the bad guys. There is some great action in this section of the film, with shootouts that resemble scenes from westerns amped up to 21st century volume levels. The most over the top sequence of course is saved for last, when Cortez finally shows up and is chased by Owens in the Mayor's red Camaro through a cornfield in a scene that plays like some Chevy-ized version of an old Dukes of Hazzard episode. It's wonderfully staged and incredibly effective, capped by a bare knuckles fight that proves Ah-nuld may be aging (something that's stated outright in the film) but can still pack a heck of a punch.
The film has a large and colorful supporting cast, including Johnny Knoxville as a weapons expert; Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford and Luis Guzmán as deputies; Peter Stormare as Cortez's chief goon who terrorizes Sommerton; Rodrigo Santoro as a returned vet who just happens to be good with a gun; and Génesis Rodriguez as the agent whom Cortez holds hostage. But aside from the Governator himself, the real star of this film may well be Kim ji-Woon, a South Korean director with a varied oeuvre (including part of the omnibus Doomsday Book), who makes his American debut with this feature. He's obviously modeling this film after some of the similarly furiously paced John Woo action flicks, and the good news is, he's a rather skilled mimic.
The Last Stand Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Last Stand is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. This digitally shot feature often looks spectacular on Blu-ray, with appealingly robust colors (which can admittedly verge into lurid territory when some of the blood and guts elements start to be displayed). Fine object detail is excellent and this high definition presentation also boasts superior contrast which helps some of the nighttime sequences to really bristle with well above average clarity and shadow detail. Director Jim Jee-Won and cinematographer Ji Yong Kim prefer a hyperkinetic style where the camera is often in motion, but there are no stability issues to report despite this tendency.
The Last Stand Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Zowie. That may not be a technical term, but it may well be the best way to describe The Last Stand's incredibly forceful lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, certainly one of the most immersive surround tracks I've heard so far this year. From the first moments, when the whip pan sound of the Corvette zooming down an abandoned highway zings through the side channels, it's clear this film is going to be one heck of a sonic ride. Over and over again well crafted foley effects are expertly placed around the side and rear channels, and of course there is more than abundant LFE courtesy of several major shootouts that occur. Despite the noisiness of much of the mix, dialogue is extremely well prioritized and always easily audible. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is incredibly wide.
The Last Stand Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Last Stand Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's absolutely nothing new under the blazing Arizona sun in The Last Stand, but I was actually a little shocked at how breezily entertaining this film is. It's often quite gruesomely violent, but it has the requisite Schwarzenegger-esque sense of humor (replete with lame one liners) and the action is impeccably well staged. You'll see virtually every plot point coming from a mile (or more) off, but chances are you won't really care all that much because there's enough mayhem to keep you properly distracted. This Blu-ray offers excellent video, reference quality audio and some decent supplements. Recommended.
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The Last Stand Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, May 27-June 2: The Last Stand Remains on Top - June 5, 2013
For the week that ended on June 2nd, Lionsgate Home Entertainment's The Last Stand remained in the number one spot on the Blu-ray-only chart. The Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller has performed strongly on home media following a slightly disappointing box-office ...
• Blu-ray Sales, May 20-26: The Last Stand Comes in First - May 30, 2013
For the week that ended on May 26th, Lionsgate Home Entertainment's The Last Stand debuted at number one on the Blu-ray-only and overall package media lists. The action-thriller marked the return of screen icon Arnold Schwarzenegger to leading-man roles, though ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: May 21-28 - May 19, 2013
For the week of May 21st, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is bringing Side Effects to Blu-ray. Steven Soderbergh has claimed that this feature will be his last theatrical venture - he shot his Liberace docudrama, Behind the Candelabra, for HBO - and if the ...
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