It's hard to resist the word play. He's back, and hopefully he'll be back again. His film fans are grateful. The "he" is Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator is back and doing movies that are much more fun than what we read about him as California's Governator.
Also fun about Schwarzenegger's comeback is the grand debate started by Sylvester Stallone at the recent Golden Globe telecast. They were there to hand out the best foreign picture award. Stallone point blank challenged Schwarzenegger. He said no way is he -- Stallone -- the worst actor of the two.
Schwarzenegger looked like the proverbial cat that just ate a canary and said nothing.
Stallone's accusation is like asking which rotting apple of two is the most rotten. Both are horrible actors and both can be a lot of fun in a movie.
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Of the two, though, Schwarzenegger seems to have the best sense of humor and he certainly has the best comedy timing. But we're not here to compare actors. It's about a comeback of sort for Schwarzenegger. The studios did not screen Expendables 2 for Northwest critics, so I didn't get to see it and haven't had the time to grab the DVD.
The Last Stand did get screened. If you're a fan, you'll like it. This is classic Arnold. He plays the sheriff of a dinky, dusty town on the Arizona-Mexico border. The FBI lets a Mexican drug cartel head escape. He's in a stolen and souped-up Corvette that goes close to 200-mph and is headed for Summerton Junction to cross the border into Mexico and freedom.
His armed minions are there, they've killed a farmer and a deputy, and Schwarzenegger's Ray Owens and his town's misfits are all that stand in the way of his ultimate escape.
Co-starring with Schwarzenegger are Luis Guzman, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Johnny Knoxville, some unknown male actors and a couple of beautiful and until now, unknown actresses.
South Korean director Jee-Woon Kim does his first English-language film, and it's a good one. The pacing is lightning fast. The action sequences -- as with all Schwarzenegger projects -- are decent, and the humor flies almost as fast as the bullets.
Close to the movie's climax, Kim creates one of the most creative car chases I've seen in years.
The Last Stand is not rocket science. The three screenwriters are Andrew Knauer, a first-time writer who came up with the story; Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow), who supervises the rewrite and George Nolfi, who helped pen The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean's Twelve. Holes wide enough to drive 10 of the bad guy's super cars through permeate their plot.
But it's fun, so who cares?
And it's about Arnold, who has a blast poking fun of himself and enjoying the kind of movie he regularly did in his prime. At one point, a group of people ask his character how he feels. The reply is: "Old."
Arnold may be old -- or older -- but his style of action flick never gets old.
Director: Jee-Woon Kim
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Luis Guzman, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Johnny Knoxville, Eduardo Noriega, Jaimie Alexander, Genesis Rodriguez
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for violence and mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.