Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th January 2013
Box Office USA: $12.0M
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films
Production compaines: Di Bonaventura Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 91 Rotten: 61
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Screenwriter: Andrew Knauer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sheriff Ray Owens, Forest Whitaker as Agent John Bannister, Rodrigo Santoro as Frank Martinez, Johnny Knoxville as Lewis Dinkum, Jaimie Alexander as Sarah Torrance, Luis Guzmán as Mike Figuerola, Peter Stormare as Burrell, Génesis Rodríguez as Agent Ellen Richards, Zach Gilford as Jerry Bailey, John Patrick Amedori as Agent Mitchell, Daniel Henney as Phil Hayes, Eduardo Noriega as Gabriel Cortez, Christiana Leucas as Christie, Harry Dean Stanton as Mr. Parson, Kristen Rakes as Agent Devers, Diana R. Lupo as Magnet Girl, Billy Blair as Man in Orange Suit, Titos Menchaca as Mayor
Korean filmmaker Kim played with the Western genre before in his wacky 2008 pastiche The Good the Bad the Weird, and this film is just as chaotically uneven, mixing cartoon-style silliness with grisly violence. But the high-energy approach holds our interest, as does Schwarzenegger's immense screen presence in his first starring role since his political career. The film is far too jumbled to hold together, but its sardonic sense of humour makes it a decent guilty pleasure.
Arnie plays Sheriff Owens, who has a quiet routine in his sleepy Arizona-Mexico border town. So when a stranger (Stormare) appears, he sends his deputies (Alexander and Gilford) to investigate. Things get violent quickly, so he deputises a drunken veteran (Santoro) and a moronic gun-nut (Knoxville) to work alongside another deputy (Guzman). What he doesn't yet know is that the baddies are part of an elaborate plan to help a drug kingpin (Noriega) escape from a Law Vegas FBI Agent (Whitaker) and cross the border to freedom in Mexico.
The whizzy plot actually has promise as a straightforward action movie, but Kim throws so much nuttiness at the screen that we can't take anything seriously. The story zings from set-piece to set-piece without much concern for credibility or coherence. It's all very cool, especially the baddie's glimmering, super-fast prototype Corvette, which travels "faster than a chopper" on isolated country roads that are improbably smooth. And his climactic plan to get over the border is astonishingly silly, but played dead straight.
Thankfully, Schwarzenegger is great at anchoring ludicrous storylines with his stony face, all while throwing out corny one-liners as he grumbles about being too old for this kind of nonsense. None of the other actors have a chance against him. Whitaker is barely in the film, always chasing behind the action. The deputies all have fun in their offhanded roles. And Knoxville plays such an annoyingly wacky idiot that he seems to have wandered in from another film altogether. But in the end, the film is predictable and obnoxious as well as loud and kinetic. Not to mention feeble attempts at emotion along the way. We're never remotely bored, but like Arnie we feel battered and bruised at the end of it all.