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.