There is something fairly pornographic about The Last Stand‘s depiction of ‘Americanism’. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s newest film is about an escaped convict driving a supercar, wrecking havoc with the FBI along the highways until all that stands between him and the border is a small American town and, well, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his police department of misfits.
The story of a small town standing up and bearing arms for what is right against a cocky foreign antagonist is American patriotism at its most brazen….
…however, what makes The Last Stand particularly interesting is how diverse and multicultural a produciton it is.
There’s a police force with an Austrian Sheriff and Puerto Rican second in command that also includes an up and coming female player; then there’s an FBI whose most senior member is black, with a high ranking Asian agent at his side; and it all comes from South Korean director Kim Jee Woon.
White American males actually take a back seat in the story. We end up with something like an outsider’s love letter to America – and to the kind of action movies that made Arnold famous in the first place.
The film is not particularly well edited on a shot-to-shot basis, and it does trundle through two acts that seem largely busy just waiting for the third act to finally happen, but once we’re at the climax, there’s real fun to be had.
Yesterday, I went down to a press junket for the movie with Mr. Schwarzenegger himself. Here’s some of what he had to say about his return to the movie business, his upcoming projects, and what attracted him to The Last Stand in the first place.
First of all Sylvester Stallone asked me to be in the Expendables. That was sort of breaking the ice. I had a great time working for 4 days in Bulgaria… so by the time we finished up on the the Expendables, I felt pretty warmed up. I was not as concerned as I was at the beginning, “Can I get back into it again?” “What will it be like, first movie?” So it was a good icebreaker. I thank Stallone for that.
You have to look at it like more of an ongoing acting and movie career. Then stepping out of that for 7 years and doing the governship, and then to go right back to what I was doing before.
What I was looking for in a movie was something that would be a typical Arnold action movie. The Last Stand had great chase scenes, great action set pieces, fights and shoot outs. And it also had great comic relief, a good story and also a character somewhat more than what I had played in the past. I liked that.
Then Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who is the producer of this film came to me with Kim Jee Woon, the director from South Korea. I was very impressed with the work he had done. I thought it would be really interesting to have a new look in action movies.
When we put the cast together, I was very excited with Johnny Knoxville because my kids and the whole family had have been big fans of his films and his comedy. I really thought he would be great this new film. And then when I heard Jamie would be in the film, I was very excited because she is a great action girl on the female side, because she is so athletic…
I am 65 years old but just as hungry. Hungry for growing, for getting smarter, having more experiences, doing more movies, doing bigger movies, doing better movies, working with different actors and directors, do even better with my work to clean the environment, to create a sustainable energy future in the world and work with the UN and various different organisations, work on the Schwarzenegger institute at USC, work on state and global policy, stem cell research and better government practice and just have a good time and help people who need help.
I have a foundation that gives kids after school programs to help them stay out of trouble, they get the education and the tutoring and parenting and all that. So I am involved in a lot of things while having a good time being involved in all those things.
Terminator 5? Yeah, we are writing it right now. There are three parts that are being written right now that involve me, one is Terminator 5, the other is a Conan movie and the sequel to Twins, which is called Triplets and that is with Eddie Murphy. Figure that one out.
The Last Stand had a bafflingly bad box-office opening in the US. While I wouldn’t be one of the films most determined fans, I’d still say it’s worth a look.
I suspect that the film will have a good word of mouth, and also find a fairly big international audience. You could do a lot worse if you’re looking for something a little less “Oscary.”
The Last Stand is out in the UK tomorrow, Thursday January 23rd.