Peter Suderman Reviews Arnold Schwarzenegger's Return to Action, The Last Stand

Sure he was defeated by public sector employee unions, but former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger still knows how to shoot holes in big screen bad guys. This weekend, the Reagan-era action icon returns to the genre that helped make him famous in The Last Stand, his first major role since leaving the governor's office. Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews in today's Washington Times:

The ‘80s are back. At the multiplex, anyway.

Over the next month, moviegoers will be treated to an array of ‘80s-action throwbacks: a new Sylvester Stallone flick, a new “Die Hard” movie, and — kicking things off this weekend — the return of Reagan-era action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first major role since ending his stint as governor of California. He always promised he’d be back, and with “The Last Stand” he dutifully delivers.

Dutifully, of course, does not necessarily mean imaginatively. “The Last Stand” is an exercise in both setting and meeting low expectations: This is an R-rated action movie with fast cars, big guns, bloody shootouts, attractive women, good guys, bad guys, and just enough of the former governor’s squinty-eyed tough guy shtick to keep nostalgic fans satisfied.

For better or for worse, then, it’s as close to an old school Arnold Schwarzenegger movie as one could hope for. The movie mindfully acknowledges Mr. Schwarzenegger’s legend but does not attempt to substantially embellish it. Instead, it sticks with the tried and true tropes of the sort of plodding, muscle-bound shoot ‘em ups that Mr. Schwarzenegger helped popularize.

At this point, Mr. Schwarzenegger has begun to plod somewhat himself. The former bodybuilder is still built like a bridge pylon, with arms the size of monster truck axles, but he’s aged since he last starred in a movie, and it shows.

Sure, he’s still got the best macho smirk in the business, but now it comes across more as an elderly affectation than a serious threat. He’s still big, but he’s also slower. At this point, Mr. Schwarzenegger is the great old granddaddy of action stars, with spiky hair that looks like unmowed grass, tiny eyes, and tanned, leathery skin that give him the appearance of a battle-weathered dinosaur. It’s a fitting look for another ancient giant trudging slowly through his old feeding grounds.

Read the whole thing.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    He needs to do a third Conan movie, set in the period when Conan was king of Aquilonia.

  • tarran||

    Actually, Conan abdicated the Aquilonian throne to his son Conn and sailed across the Atlantic to fight prehistoric proto Aztecs. I think Conan was at about age 60 - and at the end of the story disappears much like Sherlock Holmes falling into the waterfall while wrestling with Moriarty.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Plenty of room for a movie. Let's not quibble.

  • Peter Suderman||

    Third Ah-nuld Conan movie now in the works: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/60310

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, then, I approve.

  • WTF||

    I approve if it's more like the first Conan rather than that shitty second Conan.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sucky would suck, but let's hope that's not how it plays out.

  • tarran||

    I thought the third Conan movie was Red Sonja?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Optical illusion.

  • Killazontherun||

    CGI in a red wig for Grace Jones and you got it. Body was divine.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You're a funny guy, Suderman. I like you. That's why I'm going to read you last.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I eat Reason editors for breakfast. And right now, I'm very hungry!

  • ||

    “The Last Stand” is an exercise in both setting and meeting low expectations

    FUCK YOU ASSHOLE

  • Pro Libertate||

    Warty, we've got our Conan movie. What could be better in life?

  • WTF||

    What could be better in life?

    To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, sure, that. But nothing else.

  • ||

    UND HEAH DE LAMENTATIONS OF DEH WOMEN

  • Pro Libertate||

    Fuck, I'm going to push this massive lever around in circles until the movie comes out.

  • Tim||

    Government job eh?

  • tarran||

    That pissed me off.

    The first movie basically grabbed all the good bits from the important stories and munged them together in a way that completely trivialized them.

    He should have fought the mummy king for his sword. He should have schtupped Belit, etc. They could have had a franchise of four or five movies that would have satisfied purists like me while being wildly entertaining.

    Instead they pissed it all away.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, I read the stories after I saw the film and was surprised how many had elements in the movie.

    On the other hand, the short stories were short stories, so some combination of them had to be done, right? At least until the HBO series premieres.

  • tarran||

    So do them!

    Don't take the signature moment from the climax of a story and make it the centerpiece of a otherwise pedestrian 1 minute scene!

  • Pro Libertate||

    To be honest, my role in producing Conan the Barbarian was minimal.

  • tarran||

    Sorry, it wasn't aimed at you.... and I was in a hurry; I had a meeting I needed to run to.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was kidding. I actually wrote the screenplay.

  • JW||

    I was kidding. I actually wrote the screenplay.

    That's nothing. I was Sandahl Bergman.

  • Killazontherun||

    He also had a steamy affair with Sandra Bernhard. She was merely using him to get a part in the movie though. Tell them about the threesome with her and Madonna and you, PL!

  • Killazontherun||

    Not being a purist, I'd like to see some of Frank Brunner's work adopted. Some of those stories are excellent. The black and white long form stories he did in the late 70's and 80's were my introduction to Conan before I read Howard.

  • Killazontherun||

    Brunner, of course, but I'm also thinking of Roy Thomas when dipping that far back.

  • tarran||

    I never got into the non Howard stories - probably because reading Steve Perry's utterly shitty treatments soured me on the enterprise (let's write about someone who other than musculature has *nothing* in common with Howard's Conan and call him Conan too).

  • Killazontherun||

    Can't blame you if your first exposure was the original work. It is difficult to capture that essence. I remember reading a Salomon Kane narrative poem of his and coming away thinking it was about the best thing I ever read, period.

  • tarran||

    It's hard to believe that Howard never traveled more than 30 miles from his birthplace... and wrote all his stuff in a decade and a half (IIRC).

  • Tim||

    "still knows how to plug holes in big screen bad guys. "

    Shouldn't that be "punch" holes?

  • Guy Incognito||

    He's taking his action stylings in a radically different direction this time.

  • Tim||

    Well he did raid that gay bar in terminator III so we can't say there weren't hints that something like this was possible.

  • JW||

    He's not the Punchmaster, fercryinoutloud.

    'Plug' is a perfectly cromulent synonym for 'shoot.'

  • Guy Incognito||

    Maybe if you're gonna use your tommy gun on some two-bit galoot sipping phosphates down at the drugstore, but that sort of nomenclature will get you laughed right out of South Central. Trust me. They even threw my wing tips over a power line.

  • Gray Ghost||

    + 23 Skidoo.

  • ||

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Gotta hand it to Arnold. He's had one hell of a life. Talk about success and screw ups. He goes big on both ends of the scale. I'll probably wait until this comes out on Nefflix, but I'll still watch it.

  • ||

    Arnold's blueprint to success: going AWOL.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The movie I'm really looking forward to is 'Pain and Gain'. It starts Waglberg and 'The Rock' Johnson and is based on a true story AND is directed by Michael Bay. How can this not be awesome?

  • Pro Libertate||

    You may have the worst taste in movies, ever.

  • Tim||

    Will there be hole plugging?

  • Hugh Akston||

    He kind of has the worst taste in everything. So I guess it follows.

  • MJGreen||

    In fairness, from the trailer, it does look more like The Rock level trash than Transformers level trash. I think it could be enjoyable, assuming it's not 150 minutes long.

  • JW||

    Sure he was defeated by public sector employee unions, but former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger still knows how to shoot holes in big screen bad guys.

    "Remember when I promised to tax you last? I LIED!"

  • ChrisO||

    His big mistake was choosing California as his political vehicle. The failure was inevitable. He should have moved to Nevada if he wanted to run for office.

  • Delroy||

    Some blog threads are ripe for hilarious comments. An Arnold thread - PURE GOLD.

    This is why I love to read H&R. Thanks guys!

  • Loki||

    GET TO THE CHOPPAH!!!!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    This is where I say, "Sandahl Bergman" in the voice Homer Simpson uses to say, "Doughnuuuuts."

  • Translucent Chum||

    It's not a tumah!

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