‘The Last Stand’: The Reviews Are In!

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back — but are the critics happy about that?

It’s a fair assumption to bet that the most dedicated and devout Arnold Schwarzenegger fans are already lining up to see his new movie “The Last Stand,” his first non-”Expendables” role and turn as a leading man since leaving political office, but what do the critics think of Schwarzenegger’s return?

The Kim Jee-woon-directed flick is an action-adventure that revolves around retired LAPD officer-turned-sheriff (Schwarzenegger) who is reluctantly pulled into a larger law-enforcement operation to catch a drug kingpin and his dangerous gang members. The R-rated film is a return to form for Schwarzenegger and also features Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Jamie Alexander and Genesis Rodriguez. So did the critical mass welcome the cinematic return of the former California governor? The answer is yes-ish, given its 64 percent “Fresh” standing on Rotten Tomatoes.

Find out the specifics as we race through the “Last Stand” reviews!

The Story
“The warmed-over redemption story casts Schwarzenegger as a disgraced LAPD officer who takes a job as sheriff in a sleepy border town, where he hopes to forget a botched operation. Keeping the peace in Sommerton Junction isn’t much work for this overqualified lawman, but when a notorious drug kingpin (Eduardo Noriega) escapes from an FBI convoy and starts barreling toward Mexico at 200 mph, Schwarzenegger is called back into action. With just a few other woefully inexperienced deputies — including a prisoner (Rodrigo Santoro) and a local gun hoarder (Johnny Knoxville) granted a temporary badge — Schwarzenegger tries to fend off the kingpin’s army of mercenaries (led by a hilariously accented Peter Stormare) and keep him from slipping across the border.” — Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club

Arnold
” ‘The Last Stand’ is the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie you didn’t even realize you wanted to see. This is the action superstar’s first leading role in a decade, having left acting to serve as the governor of California and whatnot, and while it may not have occurred to you to miss him during that time, it’s still surprisingly good to see him on the big screen again. He is not exactly pushing himself here. Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s American filmmaking debut turns out to be an extremely Schwarzeneggerish Schwarzenegger film, full of big, violent set pieces and broad comedy. He may look a little creaky (and facially freaky) these days, but Arnold proves he’s still game for the mayhem as he fires off rounds and tosses off one-liners, and the movie at least has the decency to acknowledge that it knows that you know that he’s old.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press

The Action
“What truly sets The Last Stand apart from other modern action films is the use of tons of practical effects. There’s digital in there — a guy gets shot in half by a gatling gun digitally — but there are also a bunch of thrilling car scenes done in camera, and there’s a bunch of squib-work on display as well. The action scenes have a palpable intensity, and Jee-woon (and his second unit) shoot them with expert precision. The Last Stand’s action scenes range from shoot outs to crazy car stunts to a daring escape in Las Vegas to a great fist fight, and every sequence is fun and engaging.” — Devin Faraci, Badass Digest

The Final Word
“If you’re a grown-up who is able to enjoy escapism as escapism, though, ‘The Last Stand’ is confident, breezy fun, and Arnold tweaks his own advancing age in a way that never feels like overkill. He’s still a badass. He’s just gonna feel it the next day. I have to admit, I really wasn’t looking forward to his return to movies. It felt like a moment that had passed. Now, though, I’m excited because he did it the right way, trusting a filmmaker and using his clout to let the director make the film he wanted to make. The cast is good across the board, and there’s eye candy for men and women alike. The cinematography by Ji-young Kim is crisp and colorful, and I was delighted by how clean the shooting style for the action sequences is. There’s no shaky-cam, and you can see everything that’s happening. It’s ridiculous that I have to point that out, but that’s how bad it’s gotten in modern action cinema. Simply observing the basics in composition and geography is cause to celebrate right now, and “The Last Stand” is a reminder of just how much fun a pure action film can be when everyone involved treats it like it matters. Arnold is, as he promised, back, and it turns out that is good news indeed.” — Drew McWeeny, HitFix.com