STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Jaimie Alexander, Peter Stormare, Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro, Zach Gilford, Eduardo Noriega, Genesis Rodriguez, Harry Dean Stanton
DIRECTED BY: Kim Jee-Woon
This was Arnold’s big action return? Of all the scripts he probably saw, he picked this? As far as Ah-Nuld canon goes, this is somewhere near the bottom. It is also the first feature from writer Andrew Knauer, who I suspect we will never see again. You pretty much get one shot at this in Hollywood, and when you write a sub-par action flick that not even one of the worlds biggest action stars can save, you’re dunzo. And as far as director Kim Jee-Woon is concerned, luckily he has some interesting films behind him, because his American career would be dead too.
Arnold plays Sheriff Ray Owens, who is in charge of a super sleepy small town on the border between Texas and Mexico (a very white looking town on the border, by the way), and it’s a holiday weekend, so of course there will be no crime. Of course, at the same time, FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker, you won a damn Oscar for crying out loud) is charged with the task of moving a super dangerous criminal (Eduardo Noriega). This, of course, goes horribly awry, and the criminal is now free… and behind the wheel of a souped up corvette that travels at 200 miles an hour. He’s virtually unstoppable. His team of goons are led by Peter Stormare, doing his worst accent ever with some garbled redneck nonsense. And the only thing standing in his way is the sleepy town and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger figures out something is up, but he’s got a very small workforce to work with. After one of his deputies is killed in an early altercation, he’s left with only two officers (Jaimie Alexander and Luis Guzman), so he decides to deputize a man in jail for public intoxication (Rodrigo Santoro), because he also served in the military, and Johnny Knoxville (basically playing a version of himself). Santoro’s deputization proves to be warranted, as he is a badass during the fight, but Knoxville is clearly a basket case, and several fries short of a happy meal. Knoxville plays one of the dumbest characters I’ve seen on screen in a long time, and the idea that he should be allowed to carry firearms is beyond me.
Genesis Rodriguez plays a “hostage” that is grabbed and transported in the corvette, and she brings absolutely nothing to the film. Her character could have not existed, and the plot would have moved the same way. He didn’t really need to have a hostage, and she’s a terrible actress anyway. Virtually everyone in the film has done better in other films. The only person who deserves any kind of recognition is probably Jaimie Alexander, who is relatively unknown, but should find her way onto TV as a cop on a regular basis. She had a brief stint on Covert Affairs, but I’m thinking she could do good work on the new Chicago Fire spinoff. Everyone else, including Arnold, has done better. Knoxville and Stormare actually take gigantic leaps backward in their careers. This might be their worst ever.
Arnold tries his damndest to make this rather awful film better, and in parts of the film there’s a glimmer of hope that he’ll return to form in later films. This is, at best, a warm up for him. I can’t think of any other reason to watch this film, except to tide you over until Arnold does something else. Even then, I’d rewatch a Terminator film or something.
FINAL GRADE: D+