Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Arnold Makes a Satisfying Return in The Last Stand

Plus, Mama is a mixed bag, and Broken City doesn't match its ambitions.

by | January 17, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a border skirmish (The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville), haunted children (Mama, starring Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and a shady election (Broken City, starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe). What do the critics have to say?

The Last Stand

It’s been a decade since Arnold Schwarzenegger toplined a movie. And though the former governor of California shows signs of age in The Last Stand, critics say the movie is a reasonably satisfying meat-and-potatoes action flick that harkens back to Schwarzenegger’s 1980s heyday. The Governator stars as the sheriff of a small border town who becomes the last line of defense when a notorious cartel leader and his heavily-armed henchmen attempt to escape into Mexico. The pundits say The Last Stand is a formulaic action flick, but one that’s elevated by Schwarzenegger’s assured presence, and the result is violent, exuberant fun. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames, in which we present a pictoral history of Schwarzenegger’s films.)


Mama is a ghost story with a strong pedigree: it stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and was executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro. But while some critics say the movie is chilling and atmospheric, others find it clichéd and unable to fulfill its potential. Two sisters disappeared the day their mother was murdered, and after years of searching, their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Chastain) find the girls and bring them home. But soon, the sisters seem to be communicating with a spectral entity. The pundits say Mama is elegant and spooky, but it chills more than it scares and some feel it doesn’t fully develop its intriguing setup.

Broken City

Broken City is an ambitious political thriller with neo-noir crime elements. Unfortunately, critics say a fine cast can’t save the film’s overstuffed and implausible script. Mark Wahlberg stars as Billy Taggart, an ex-cop-turned-private eye who’s hired by New York City Mayor Nicolas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to investigate his philandering wife; soon, Taggart has uncovered evidence of a far-reaching conspiracy. The pundits say Broken City has its moments, but it’s too familiar and contrived to work as a whole.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Birders: The Central Park Effect, a documentary about the folks who observe our feathered friends in the heart of New York City, is at 100 percent.
  • Hors Satan, a drama about a teenage girl who befriends a mysterious hermit, is at 78 percent.
  • Here and There, a drama about a migrant worker reuniting with his family in Mexico, is at 50 percent.
  • LUV, starring Common and Dennis Haysbert in a coming-of-age drama about an 11-year-old who spends a day with his ex-con uncle, is at 33 percent.

Finally, props to Bentley Lyles for coming the closest to guessing A Haunted House‘s eight percent Tomatometer.>

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