By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

The former “Governator” is officially back in his first lead role in several years, and though the film is often silly, dumb and a tad ridiculous, damn, it is so much fun!  Despite some of the absurdities and asinine humor, director Kim Ji-Woon (I Saw the Devil) has made an exciting and thrilling action vehicle which seems tailor made for Schwarzenegger.  Granted, the action hero’s age is showing, but that’s okay, Ji-Woon, writer Andrew Knauer and Arnie, himself, incorporate that element quite charmingly into the story.

In the tiny and quiet border town of Sommerton Junction, Sheriff Ray Owens, a one time LAPD big shot, now enjoys the simple life.  However, his semi-retirement comes to an end when infamous drug-kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escapes and heads to the border with hostage FBI Agent Ellen Richards (Genesis Rodriguez) in tow. Owens and his deputies decide to intervene and attempt to thwart Cortez’s border run.

There really is not a whole lot to be said about this movie. It is action cinema at its basic and purest form.  There’s nothing complex about it, nor do the filmmakers act pretentious about this fact.  The writing, as noted above, is often silly, laughable and ludicrous.  However, it never gets so irritatingly bad that it insults its audience.  The high speed chases, the stunts, the taut and thrilling shootouts really deliver the entertainment goods.  For the most part, the characters have likable qualities that will keep the audiences invested.

The material certainly is not heady stuff, but the cast adequately performs and just about every cast member uses his/her charisma and charms efficiently.  Johnny Knoxville appropriately portrays a jack-ass of a character, and although his shtick most of the time falls flat, he never grates excessively. Eduardo Noriega makes for sly and charming villain, but not so charming that the audience wants him to succeed. Forest Whitaker effectively portrays FBI Agent John Bannister, a law man desperate to apprehend Cortez before he escapes for good.  Finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a joy to watch in this film as a former badass L.A.cop who still has it in him to get the job done. Forget about his appearances in the Expendables movies.  Those moments played out way too goofily. This really is Arnold’s comeback and though a bit older and not as spry, the man’s charisma and presence is undeniable.

Now, I’m not going to recommend this movie for everyone. If not a fan of slightly silly action movies, or Schwarzenegger, then don’t bother spending the money.  For those on the fence or in the middle, then it would be best to wait for a rental. For the fans, go see it in theaters, it should make for fun and exciting time at the cinema.

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