The Expendables and The Expendables 2 may mark Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to screen acting, but mark my words, 2013’s The Last Stand is the Governator’s real return to the silver screen. Sure, The Expendables films beat The Last Stand to it, but check out some of the reviews, and it’s clear the most critics don’t think either the original or the sequel are one of those “so bad it’s good” films. And in my opinion the joke has worn off, they’re just bad. The Last Stand actually has some pedigree behind it, despite its admittedly unremarkable title.
Arnie plays a border-town sheriff, forced out of LA by a scandal, who reluctantly joins a last-ditch attempt to stop a US-bound drugs baron. So far, so generic. But what really sets this apart (Arnie’s return aside) is the choice of director. Handling megaphone duties is South Korean auteur Kim Ji-Woon, whose best known works The Good, The Bad, and The Weird and I Saw the Devil marked him out as one to watch, even within a generation of talented Korean filmmakers. Kim Ji-Woon’s films have varied style and genre, but have always had impact and kineticism, something this film would arguably benefit from, in order to make the most of this plot. But also, Schwarzenegger has always been at his best when working with true directors, not hacks. Despite making some word-class dross in his time, Arnie’s place in cinematic history is assured, after his work with James Cameron resulted in the iconic Terminator movies, as well as Predator and Total Recall.
So, Kim Ji-Woon’s involvement is legitimately attention-snaring in its own right, coming as it does in the midst of other renowned Korean filmmakers directing their first English-language films. Bong Joon-Ho’s Snow Piercer is coming in 2013, and features Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Jamie Bell. If The Host and Memories of Murder blew you away, you’ll already be cursing the fact that you can’t yet book tickets for this one. Perhaps my favourite Korean director, Park Chan-Wook is releasing his film Stoker in March 2013, and Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode is a cast list to whet the appetite. His Vengeance trilogy shocked, disturbed, challenged and entertained in equal measure, and these films are certainly ones to watch.
Check out the trailer for The Last Stand below, and feel free to leave a comment, hopefully making parodic reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career.