Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his leading-man return in The Last Stand, opening Friday. The film is exactly what many would expect from the action-star-turned-governor: big explosions, a lot of guns and an accent.
Critical consensus seems evenly split, with a 55 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics praise the film as a return that will please Schwarzenegger fans, while others criticize the movie’s unoriginal plot and formulaic jokes.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy says that the film “lacks any kind of real distinction” and adds that it “sort of does the job.”
Below, read what top critics are saying about The Last Stand.
“Preoccupied with the caliber and firepower of its arsenal of artillery to an almost weirdly obsessive degree, this often jokey and sometimes abstract shoot-’em-up also, under present circumstances, makes conspicuously tasteless use of a school bus in one of its most violent scenes. At one point in what is not the worst but is very far from the best film the star has made in his career, customers clear out of a diner after the lawman enters it, and a waitress quips, “You sure are bad for business.” Lionsgate can only hope that the same will not be said about their star after such a long layoff. It seems most likely that this formulaic concoction will connect with a decent number of longtime fans curious to see if their man can still deliver the goods, but with better results overseas than domestically.”
“During a delicious 60 seconds or so in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new movie, The Last Stand, two bad guys are dispatched to their eternal punishment in memorable fashion. It may say something about Mr. Schwarzenegger’s post-gubernatorial future in action movies that he is not the trigger man in either killing. […] Here he plays the sheriff of a small town on the Mexico border, an ill-fitting role. Sorry, big guy, but making small talk with the locals at the diner just isn’t you.”
“This is where I’m supposed to tut a liberal tut and blame the movie and its ilk for raising gun love to a theology. But what I’m thinking watching this scene is: An Austrian-born star aiming a British armament at a gang run by a Mexican played by a Spaniard — in a picture directed by a Korean! For good or for ill, you decide, The Last Stand demonstrates that the U.S. film industry is more than just a prime exporter of our movie values. In calling on Schwarzenegger, Noriega and Kim (plus two of his compatriots, Mowg and gifted cinematographer Kim Ji-yong) and setting them loose in a Wayne LaPierre wet dream, The Last Stand functions as a global outreach initiative for American values: the United Nations of blowin’ stuff up.”
“The Last Stand marks the American debut of the Korean director Jee-woon Kim, who delivers a half-dozen quality kills that will leave audiences squirming and then laughing at the sheer audacity of it all. With all the high-speed chases and ear-shattering explosions, perhaps the most exciting and tense scene features two high-powered cars playing a game of cat and mouse while slowly rolling through a cornfield. (There’s an overhead shot during this sequence that’s just hilarious.) This is what Arnold does best: big-gun violence and one-liner laughs. He’s still got it.”
“Kim isn’t afraid to balance the action with eccentric humor — muscle cars barrel through a cornfield, Main Street becomes a Looney Tunes battleground and a loading-weapons montage is played for cheeky laughs. The obligatory “Arnold is old” gags are kept to a minimum. The Last Stand may not herald a full-scale reemergence for Arnold the Action Star, but it’s clearly a step in that direction.”