There's no nice way to say it -- January is the absolute worst month for movies. It's become such a well-known fact that film aficionados like the ones over at the A.V. Club introduce movies slated for a January release with the assumption that they'll all be bombs.
This week, I got to see one of those January movies -- The Last Stand. Being an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan in my youth, seeing him have to share screen time with Johnny Knoxville made my heart sink. It's been ten long years since Arnold had a lead roll, and this is how we're being reunited with the "Last Action Hero"?
You can probably imagine I went into the theater with low expectations. I'm happy to report that I left pleasantly surprised. The Last Stand is really a spaghetti western in an Austrian's clothing.
The plot is fairly simple -- an escaped convict is making a run for the Mexican border, and he'll need to get through Sheriff Owen's (Schwarzenegger) one-horse town to be home free. The problem? The escaped convict is armed with a souped-up Corvette ZR-1 that can push 200 MPH, while Owens is only armed with a motley crew of local yokels. (Side note, Chevrolet makes more appearances in this film than most of the supporting cast. Hello product placement!)
It takes a while to get the movie into high gear, but once Arnold is saddled up it's a hell of a ride. I can see why Lionsgate is putting marketing muscle behind this one -- they must think it can be a sleeper hit. Arnold even did an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit to promote this thing.
The Rotten Tomato rating for The Last Stand is currently hovering around 60%, which in all honesty is pretty much where it should be. This is three-star cinema at its finest. It doesn't take itself too seriously, there's some great action, some great one-liners (one of which was not spoiled by the ad campaign thankfully), and some genuinely funny moments.
So in the doldrums of January releases, The Last Stand stands out. It's not a homerun by any means, but it may be one of the last times we get to see Arnold swing for the fences.
- Evan Gassman