The NRA should forget that ad about the Obama girls and use this movie instead. The entire storyline can be summarized in the words of NRA head Wayne LaPierre: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Or, in this case, a ragtag bunch of good guys with many, many, many, many guns. It’s basically a co-commercial for the NRA and AARP.
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns from his decade detour into politics to play Ray, a former LA cop turned sheriff in a sleepy Arizona border town. With most of the residents out of town for a high school basketball team away game, he is taking a day off. A dangerous prisoner escapes while being transported by the FBI and hops into a souped-up supercar. “It’s a psychopath in the Batmobile,” says the furious agent in charge (Forest Whitaker). And he’s taken a hostage with him, another agent (Genesis Rodriguez).
But just like the “Manhunt” episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where the state police think that the local law enforcement are a bunch of rubes who can’t handle an escaped prisoner, Sheriff Ray has some surprises in store. And a lot of firepower, thanks to Johnny Knoxville as the town nutball-with-a-gun “museum,” an excuse for stockpiling all kinds of exotic weapons, including medieval spiked battle flails and WWII machine guns.
The bad guy is a third generation drug lord (handsome Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega) who has sent an advance team to build a bridge over a narrow canyon between Arizona and Mexico. All that lies between him and escape is Sheriff Ray, his young and beautiful deputy (“Thor’s” Jaimie Alexander), the comic relief deputy (Luiz Guzmán), the drunk and disorderly prisoner (think “Andy Griffith Show’s” Otis, except young, handsome, ex-military, and the ex of the beautiful deputy), and the crazy guy with the arsenal. Can they stop the head of a drug cartel with unlimited resources, a paramilitary operation, a car that goes faster than a plane, and all of the freedom from doubt that comes from being a sociopath? What do you think?
It’s set-piece after set-piece, with many capably staged showdowns and lots of macho posturing (several “let’s play”-style comments), plus numbingly predictable dialog with a few winks at Schwarzenegger’s age. Audiences may be less enthusiastic about the entertainment value of whole-sale carnage these days, less able to suspend any thoughts of what the reality looks like. I hope so.
Parents should know that this film features major non-stop carnage with constant shoot-outs, chases, and fights, many characters who are injured and killed, and strong language.
Family discussion: How does the movie acknowledge the real-life circumstances of its star? Who is right about what kind of life to choose, Ray or Jerry?
If you like this, try: “Con Air”