Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand Was His Last True ’80s Action Movie

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand might just be his last true ’80 action movie. The success of The Terminator set Schwarzenegger on an epic run of action hits, from Commando to Predator and True Lies. For many, Arnie’s stardom could only have come about during that decade, when his bodybuilder physique, thick accent and unique charisma made him a movie star unlike any other before him. It helped that Arnie excelled in action roles, and had a way with dry one-liners. His stardom waned somewhat towards the end of the ’90s when the likes of Batman & Robin and End Of Days ended up as financial disappointments.


Following the success of Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, Schwarzenegger took a surprise detour into politics. He became the Governor of California in 2003 and held the office until 2011. Naturally, that ruled him out of movie roles, outside of brief cameos in the likes of The Expendables movies. In his absence from the big screen, audience tastes changed, and the kind of action movies Schwarzenegger once fronted gave way to comic book films or action sagas like the Fast & Furious. Still, there was great anticipation when Arnie announced his first lead role in a decade with The Last Stand.

Related: Where Was The Last Stand Filmed? Filming Locations Explained

The Last Stand Reintroduced Arnold Schwarzenegger To Hollywood

The Last Stand was originally earmarked for Liam Neeson and cast Arnie as the Sheriff of a small Arizona town who has to stop a drug lord and his henchmen escaping into Mexico. It’s very much a meat-and-potatoes kind of movie that largely eschews CGI in favor of practical stunts and action. The Last Stand doesn’t feel that far away from the likes of Raw Deal or Red Heat, though director Kim Jee-woon gives it more of a stylized feel. Sadly, Arnie’s time away from acting shows at times, as his delivery can feel a tad stiff in dramatic scenes.

The Last Stand is a lot of fun, but compared to Schwarzenegger’s earlier films, it’s just not as memorable. That said, it feels like a swansong to the type of ’80s action that made him famous. It’s got the bloody, R-rated action, the salty one-liners and the fun supporting cast, though it wisely plays to Arnie’s age. The Last Stand came out close to Stallone’s Bullet To The Head, which also felt like a throwback to Sly’s ’80s work.

Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Doesn’t Do Action Movies Like That Anymore

Unfortunately, the financial letdown of the latter and The Last Stand suggested audiences had moved on from those R-rated action vehicles. Arnie tried a bunch of action movies in a row (Escape Plan, Sabotage, etc) that didn’t really connect with audiences, and even returning to “safe” franchises like Terminator yielded diminishing returns. Schwarzenegger hasn’t appeared in a movie since 2019’s Dark Fate and hasn’t had a lead role since 2017’s Aftermath. Arnie’s Netflix action series FUBAR will arrive in 2023 though, but given his age and the fact his last few action movies bombed, he’s unlikely to try projects like The Last Stand in the near future.

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