Director Kim Jee-woon
I need to preface this by saying I’ve enjoyed everything Arnold has done that I’ve seen. I haven’t seen everything he has done but I have enjoyed what work of his I’ve seen. Seeing him in the Terminator and Conan films as a child, he’s just towered as larger-than-life in my mind and that has translated well into my adulthood.
This is among my favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s more recent work. In my opinion it’s a very good modern day western. It’s based around the old trope of the sheriff that needs to raise a posse to stop the bad guy and his gang from escaping justice and possibly destroying the town. Those stories are a dime a dozen in westerns and here it is set in the modern day starring an Austrian actor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a small-town sheriff Ray Owens. Ray has retired to the sleepy town of Sommerton Junction, Arizona (apparently it’s a real place and not something they made for the movie) after spending time as a DEA agent in Los Angeles. Tragedy struck while he was on duty and he had to move on. He’s settled into his life of dealing with quirky locals and minimal crime.
That all ends early one morning for him when he receives a phone call that the daily milk delivery to a diner from a local farmer has not arrived. As events begin to spiral out of control, he learns that third-generation drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) is barreling straight towards his town. With help not going to arrive soon enough he decides he has to take a stand to stop this man. It’s a pretty solid modern day western. It’s better than Schwarzenegger has been delivering lately.
You have a lot of the tropes of the B-movie western. The sleepy small town. The seemingly unstoppable villain that doesn’t look like they really need their gang but they’re there anyway. You have the sheriff that’s seen a little bit too much and just wants to spend his last few years quietly. But most importantly you have that same sheriff forced into action against his will.
There’s a nice planted plot twist with the mole. It’s not entirely unexpected because if there hadn’t been a mole you would have a major plot hole, or the villains were really lucky and really prepared. You know who the mole is if you’re paying attention in the first 20 or 30 minutes of the film. I’m not saying it’s obvious, but the clues are laid right out there. You just have to watch a little more closely for that moment than you normally would in a movie like this. I give the director props for that.
The battle in the town towards the end is just so old school western. Guns are blazing. They’re bad guys and good guys everywhere. They even toss in an explosion or two. Of course, being a modern action film, you even get in a few jokes.
Then there’s the showdown on the bridge. A duel of sorts between the good guy and the bad guy. How western is that? After a chase in sports cars through a cornfield Ray Owen’s (Schwarzenegger) arrives at the bridge just moments before Cortez. Cortez tempts Ray to look the other way but Schwarzenegger being true to his usual characters does not even hesitate on what he must do.
They beat the crap out of each other in a pro wrestling fashion. That’s not a swipe. It looks awesome in this movie. The punch and kick and body slam one another. Cortez breaks out a knife and Owens breaks out some eye gouging.
This is a fun action that’s a nice addition to the modern western genre and a worthy addition the Schwarzenegger’s filmography. I recommend this movie.