It’s nearly surreal watching the former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing the lead in his first major movie since leaving office(he did a bit role in THE EXPENDABLES II as well). He’s a well loved screen presence sorely missed for the years while he held public office leading America’s biggest state. Strangely, his command of the English language appears as bad as ever, especially during the opening minutes of this Lionsgate action movie that often seems a little bit second rate and generic, but the film eventually finds it’s stride, and becomes a reasonably satisfying film for fans of Schwarzenegger, who’s well loved by his fans for the action image he presents, rather than his true acting abilities.

THE LAST STAND involves a fairly good story of a mega-wealthy drug cartel kingpin who escapes from the FBI guards, only to leave a trail of havoc and destruction behind as he races toward Mexico in a specially modified Corvette that can travel 185mph, faster than most police or FBI helicopters. As a small town sheriff, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character wants to bring this drug fugitive to justice for being responsible for the murder of a longtime town resident as this drug kingpin’s men killed him to clear the path for an escape using a temporary bridge to get over the border. Schwarzenegger’s character puts together a rag tag small group of defenders that include Johnny Koxville and Luis Guzman(who incidently, other kids used to call “Frankenberry” when he attended school as a bit of trivia), and others. Johnny Knoxville does provide some comic relief in this action film, where the violence is sometimes as graphic as any old Sam Peckinpah movie, minus the slow motion effects. Forest Whitaker plays a useful role here, as the FBI leader. Forest Whitaker is always a dependable actor to turn in a great performance.

The bottom Line: Lionsgate doesn’t always produce masterpieces, but their films seem like well produced exploitation genre films, such as horror movies. But, this action film is generally both fun and exciting once you get past Arnold Schwarzenegger’s obvious struggles with the English language. ***(Three stars, Good. Rent or buy this one. If you love Schwarzenegger’s movies, you’ll buy this one for sure. Not a real classic like THE TERMINATOR, but still a satisfying film to say the least).

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