Friday Flicks: Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Back in ‘The Last Stand’

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

Director Jee-woon Kim, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jaime Alexander and Johnny Knoxville attend the LA premiere of "The Last Stand" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles.

The Last Stand

Tagline: Not in his town. Not on his watch.

An Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is such a rarity these days that you sometimes forget he was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. But if you’ll forgive the obvious reference, he did say he’d be back.

In The Last Stand, the 65-year-old Schwarzenegger plays Ray Owens, sheriff of a small Arizona border town called Sommerton Junction. It’s the sort of place where everyone knows your name, which is why Owens gets suspicious when he spots some unfamiliar faces in a diner.

The bad guys are there on behalf of a notorious Mexican drug lord, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who as it turns out recently escaped federal custody in Las Vegas. (What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, we guess.) Not only is Cortez headed for the border — via Sommerton — he’s got a hostage in his stolen car. But fear not: Owens and his team will be waiting for the inevitable showdown. Don’t be surprised if guns are involved.

But what might shock you are the extremely strong reviews The Last Stand is getting. “The Arnold Schwarzenegger movie you didn’t even realize you wanted to see,” opines the Associated Press, before praising Korean director Kim Jee-woon. “Kim keeps things moving briskly and the members of the strong supporting cast don’t seem to mind that they’re playing flimsy types. Everyone’s just here for a mindless good time.” Variety isn’t on board to quite the same degree but concedes that the “jokey star vehicle elevates a back-of-the-bar-napkin script with a string of proficient and sensationally violent setpieces.” And the Hollywood Reporter makes a smart comparison, noting that Schwarzenegger “resembles characters Clint Eastwood played back in the 1990s, physically capable guys who can still rise to the occasion even if they have slowed a step and will feel the bangs and bruises longer after the action’s over.”

VIDEO: 10 Questions with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Broken City

Tagline: Proof can be a powerful weapon.

Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe in the same film? Never mind the finished product, we’re keen to see the dailies. Why? Because the opportunity to see these two guys go toe-to-toe during the shoot sounds awesome (and is a must for the eventual DVD).

On screen, Wahlberg plays Bill Taggart, an ex-cop-turned-private eye hired by Mayor Nicolas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), who wants him to investigate his cheating wife, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. And if the mayor didn’t have enough on his plate, he’s also up for re-election, which is exactly the time when you need your loved ones close and your enemies far away. There’s actually a neat twist when it comes to the romantic affairs at the heart of the movie but we won’t say any more for fear of spoiling your enjoyment.

But is there enjoyment even to be had? It’s tough to find an unbeat review. “Would have made for a fine film noir 60 years ago but feels rather contrived and unbelievable in the setting of contemporary New York,” begins the Hollywood Reporter. “Everything is simultaneously too complicated and overly spelled out … a forgettable piece of pulp,” concludes the Associated Press. “An evocative and over-ambitious title for a so-so political potboiler that wants to be a gritty, expansive epic of moral and urban decay,” chides Variety. In other words: if it is broken, fix it.

PHOTOS: Mark Wahlberg

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: By the sounds of it, don’t take a stand against seeing The Last Stand.

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