There used to be a time when a film like this — over-the-top and yet modest compared to a Bruce Willis crash-and-burn spectacle — would seem pretty cool. Director Jee-woon Kim has made a number of super-violent Korean thrillers (The Good, The Bad, The Weird) that obviously owe a debt to Western action films, if not Westerns — and spun the genre with stylish overkill, signaling that all this mayhem is rooted in highly unbelievable formalistic fun.
But for now, at least, those times have changed. It isn’t so much that the actor playing the gun-crazy main character is California’s former governor, and it isn’t really such a bad film despite plot holes that you could drive a school bus through sideways while shooting a huge gun.
Though something like that does happen, which is the problem.
The Last Stand features two goofy characters in a story about a little town that does battle with a Mexican cartel boss who wants to drive his Corvette through on his way to the Mexican border while flipping off the rubes. The two characters for whom this insolence will not stand are a daffy survivalist with a giant-barn arsenal of bullets and guns and a granny who asks another bad guy to leave her little cottage and then pulls out a shotgun and blows his head away. I submit that any one of these is enough to offend post-Sandy Hook America. Why an old woman in a friendly little town has a shotgun under her rocker may just get to the heart America’s gun problem.
Released two months earlier, perhaps this film wouldn’t seem like such a slap in the face of people who are justifiably heartbroken. I like movie violence, but right now, the coolness factor is gone, shot apart by a crazy person with an arsenal in a horrifying style.