On paper, The Last Stand never sounded like a good thing. For one, it's the comeback project for action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger's resurrected film career, which, keep in mind, is happening during the year when he and his aging body will turn 66-years-old. His co-stars include Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzman, two funny guys who don't exactly scream "action flick sidekicks" (do recall how it turned out when Rob Schneider assisted Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man). And, lastly the film's trailers and commercials all hinge on a moment when, after crashing through a diner's window, the former Governator is asked how he's feeling, to which he simply says, "Old." Go ahead, slap those knees!
Now that we've seen The Last Stand, however, we're happy to report that it's actually a great deal of fun. The whiz-bang moments are inventive and feel fresh, the tone is self-aware and comical, and, somehow, Schwarzenegger comes across as cool. So how could this have possibly happened? Hats off to director Kim Jee-woon, the critically lauded South Korean filmmaker who's making his Hollywood debut here. Although The Last Stand isn't as exceptional as Jee-woon's best movies produced in Korea (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil), it's still one of the slicker and most easily enjoyable action pics to emerge from the Hollywood machine in quite some time.
To think, it could've been a lot worse for Mr. Jee-woon, considering that so many of his international peers have damaged their reputations with painfully inferior American films over the years. Just how rotten are we talking? Have a look at The 10 Worst English-Language Movies Made By Good Foreign Directors.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)