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A NRA wet dream of good guys with guns killing lots and lots of bad guys with guns, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback movie The Last Stand is a ridiculous and superduperultraviolent B-movie throwaway that I really wanted to hate more than I actually did. It almost hurts to write this, because the movie’s junk, but it’s also...God help me....kinda fun.
Arguably irresponsible, with bloodbaths and dismemberments often played for laughs that had the lowest-common-denominator crowd I saw it with shouting at the screen and guffawing up a storm, this relatively low-budget modern western recalls the earliest days of Arnold’s career: simple, cheap, derivative, dumb, jokey, bloody.
Schwarzenegger plays an aging sheriff in a sleepy Arizona border town infiltrated by Mexican gangsters preparing for the pending arrival of an escaped drug lord, who needs to escape the country to avoid doing time. When the FBI repeatedly fails to stop the gang, it’s up to Arnold and a band of rag-tag misfits to stop them instead. That’s pretty much it.
The movie is largely predictable, full of comic book absurdities and bad dialogue, while ten years outside the multiplex (but for a few cameos) hasn’t made Schwarzenegger any better an actor. And yet...and yet...The Last Stand has got some key things going for it. It’s paced like lightening; I was shocked to find its running time 107 minutes, because it felt at least 15 minutes shorter -- director Jee-Woon Kim (who???) shows a bold, barrelling narrative confidence that pulverizes all absurdities in its path. And terrible as an actor as he may be, there was something reassuring about seeing Ah-nuld back on the screen and kicking ass. And he’s generous about sharing screen time with the supporting cast, which includes sleepy-eyed Forest Whitaker, scenery-chewing Peter Stormare (channeling Robert Duvall?), crusty Harry Dean Stanton, typecast Latino comic relief Luis Guzman and two incredibly hot brunettes I’m sure we’ll never hear from again.
I was unsettled by some of the over-the-top gun violence, and shocked by the rowdy cheers of the audience at the relentless killing. But I can’t deny that when The Last Stand was over I felt sort of amped and cheerful, like I had a....good time. Help me, Jesus. (**1/2) -- Tom Siebert
Director Alan Hughes’ Broken City stars some of Hollywood’s biggest names—Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones—in an intricate political thriller about a former New York detective turned private investigator (Wahlberg) with a hunger for justice, no matter the price.
When New York’s mayor (Crowe), approaches the P.I. with an offer the struggling former cop can’t refuse—the mayor needs Billy to find out whom his wife (Zeta-Jones) is having an affair with--what looks at first like a fairly simple task soon twists into something far more dark and dangerous.
During the setup, Broken City hints at potential greatness, or at least memorable quality. An award winning cast and a seemingly suspenseful plot should lead this movie to the top of the box office; however, the film can’t seem to shift through the series of twists without shaking its clunky, unnatural feeling.
While the actors do what they can to convince the audience of their respective stories, the fault lies with the writing. Many of these characters don’t develop in organic ways (if they develop at all), and the story inconsistently moves in fits and starts. At times, the characters’ struggles are difficult to watch, but these well-versed actors do the best they can to make it work.
Wahlberg is the best aspect of Broken City—the infamous angry Wahlberg grimace (you know which one I’m talking about), coupled with his fight scenes, provides enough entertainment to salvage this movie. You’ll be rooting for Wahlberg to punch through every dangerous mystery—and for that, Broken City is worth a look. (**1/2) -- Alex White