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Susan Granger's review of 'The Last Stand'

Published 3:04 pm, Friday, January 25, 2013
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In his first major screen role since he left California governorship, Arnold Schwarzenegger gives his hardcore fans

what they want: a few amusing quips and oodles of heroic action, including hand-to-hand combat, prolonged car chases, and blasting, bullet-riddled showdowns.

After an illustrious stint as a Los Angeles police narcotics detective, Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) has become the taciturn, mild-mannered sheriff

of sleepy Sommerton Junction, a small Arizona border town that turns out to be the escape route chosen by fugitive Gabriel Cortez (Spain's Eduardo Noriega), an arrogantly diabolical, third-generation Mexican drug cartel kingpin. While U.S. authorities, led by federal agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker), are in hot pursuit from Las Vegas, Cortez is zipping along through the sun-drenched desert badlands, bursting through various blockades, at more than 200 mph in souped-up Corvette ZR1 with a female FBI agent (Genesis Rodriguez) as hostage in the passenger seat. Meanwhile, Cortz's ruthless henchman, Burrell (Peter Stormare), has gunned down an old farmer (unbilled Harry Dean Stanton) atop his tractor who protested the secret construction of a canyon bridge on his property. So it's up to Owens and his makeshift assortment of deputies (Luiz Guzman, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford, Rodrigo Santoro and wacky "Jackass" Johnny Knoxville) to apprehend the culprit.

Written by Andrew Knauer (who was obviously inspired by "High Noon" and "Rio Bravo") and directed by South Korea's Kim Jee-woon ("The Good, the Bad, the Weird," "I Saw the Devil"), the set-up takes its time getting started, not only introducing the small-town lawman and his motley crew but also the aging citizenry of Sommerton Junction, delivering some folksy, comical inventiveness to the formulaic, if far-fetched predictability. Let's make it clear: Arnold is back!

After spending several

years as governator in Sacramento, including a debilitating divorce skirmish involving his admitted paternity of his maid's son, still-muscular, 65-year-old Schwarzenegger swings wearily into this mindless mayhem. Let's make it clear: Arnold is back!

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Last Stand" is a shoot-`em- up 7, a celebration of America's Second Amendment's right to bear arms.