In her monthly column, guff-film buff Diane Spencer sorts the cinematic wheat from the chaff, then throws all the wheat away. This month it’s the turn of The Last Stand, a 2013 action comedy starring “a leather handbag doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, and a car”.
The Last Stand (dir. Kim Jee-woon) is the longest car advert I’ve ever seen. I imagine the script would have looked like this:
“Cue shots of a modified sports car. Cue shots of a helicopter pilot with a laptop open, looking at a revolving 3D picture of the modified sports car. Cue Forest Whitaker looking upset because he doesn’t have a modified sports car.
Repeat this for 103 mins.
End sequence: cue shot of a different car chasing the modified sports car but now Arnold Schwarzenegger is in it.
The Last Stand is a wannabe modern western, but the people who shoulda been run out of town were the sponsors. Evil baddie Cortez (played by Eduardo Noriega) escapes from the FBI and drives down through America towards “Meh-heeco” and freedom. To cross the border he passes through the sleepy town of Sommerton, sheriffed by a leather handbag doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression.
Cortez’s vehicle is supposed to be a supercar, and even though for 90 per cent of the film the baddie is driving all through the night, NEVER ONCE does he need to stop and get fuel, or even have a wee and some Percy Pigs. Following his every move via satellite, walkie-talkie and tin can on a string are the bewilderingly understaffed FBI, headed by a permanently grimacing Forest Whitaker, whose overacting puts me in mind of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.
“The FBI office is a single blue room reminiscent of the CCTV parking monitoring room I once saw on a documentary about Bristol.”
Roadblock after roadblock is traversed: the baddie changes gear every time he intends to do something, but this means it looks as if the car has about nine different gears. The helicopter chasing him, meanwhile, is rubbish: the sum total of its ‘tech’ is a pilot looking out of the window. Tsk. Even when our underfunded police force is chasing someone who’s just nicked a battered old Mondeo, the helicopter at least has a thermal imaging camera.
The FBI office is a single blue room reminiscent of the CCTV parking monitoring room I once saw on a documentary about Bristol. Except here, everyone in the background carries sheets of paper around. I’m assuming this is because none of them can spell and so they must all continually check one another’s work for mistakes. There is a member of the FBI team who seems to know everything bar where to get a proper haircut, and his sole purpose is to tell us how amazing the car is.
My favourite scenes occur in the countryside town. In one, the deputy officers are so bored they hang out with the local gun nut (Johnny Knoxville) and practise shooting different guns, with a surprising and amusing outcome. The local diner only has about three patrons, but when warned off by an ancient Arnold Schwarzenegger, they all refuse to leave. Their stubborn insistence on staying in the diner is heart-warming, funny and, dare I say it, realistic, particularly when one man with “cholersterol problems [sic]” has just ordered a fat-soaked breakfast and declares he therefore “Ain’t afraid to die”.
There’s a lovely moment reminiscent of the wonderful ¡Three Amigos! where they have to prepare the town for the gang of Mexican warlords who are about to descend on them. The Last Stand does this through having Johnny Knoxville stuck up a telegraph pole, and Arnold trying to warn everyone of the danger, only to face the truth that only about four people live in his town. Such parochial moments are a real joy, and just about spare the film. But then all too suddenly you’re whisked back into the effing car advert again.
Would I watch it again: No, unless I was drunk and wanted to have a reason to yell at my television.
Would I recommend it to a friend: Only to OBSESSIVE fans of Johnny Knoxville.
Twitter summary: Just watched The Last Stand. Arnold Schwarzenegger should have played the car.1451 Views
Diane Spencer is a standup comedian and writer. Her favourite genres include comedy, horror and sci-fi. Loves halloumi.