Arnold Schwarzenegger, an action star-turned-politician, was dubbed “The Governator” (for obvious reasons related to his starring role in the Terminator film franchise) almost immediately upon being elected Governor of the fine state of California. While in office he never seemed to meet a movie analogy, especially those based on his oeuvre, that he didn’t like. In doing so, he insured that neither side of his Governatorship would wither. But he practically retired from acting — well movie acting, anyway — for eight years. So, it’s possible his return to multiplexes could yet be viewed as something about which to be excited. And, no, his cameo in The Expendables doesn’t count, because The Expendables was barely a movie.
Since leaving office, Schwarzenegger tried to maintain his oh-so apropos nickname by partnering with living comics
charlatan legend Stan Lee to create a Saturday Morning Cartoon called “The Governator,” where he played “himself” as a retired actor/politician who becomes a crime fighting super hero that goes by the moniker of, obviously, the Governator. Unfortunately, the actor’s extramarital woes, and the bad press thereof, put the kibosh on this instant classic kids’ show. Really, that is such a wasted opportunity considering the divorce rate in the United States. Not to mention the number of children by wealthy patricians who have sex with their service staff that currently have no role models in either the film or TV mediums.
Instead, Schwarzenegger will make his return to silver screens the world over in The Last Stand, which is not to be confused with the Bruce Willis vehicle, Last Man Standing, or its TV series adaptation starring Tim Allen. (That’s what “Last Man Standing” is about, right?) In his first role since returning to the canvas folding chairs with his name stitched on the back, the former Governator plays a retired (a good realistic start) Los Angeles police officer (yeah, civil service, okay) who is the sheriff of a small border town (right wing credentials still in place, nice) when an infamous drug kingpin escapes from prison and makes a break for the Mexican border (cue ethnic cast members eager for substantial roles in any movie ever), heading straight for the old cop’s new backyard, Sommerton Junction, which sounds appropriately enough like a convalescent home.
Clearly, Schwarzenegger didn’t gain any high falutin’ ideals about his own capabilities while serving Californian voters, but one wonders if he can pull off a role that honestly sounds tailor-made for erstwhile human pumpkin, Joe Don Baker. If you’ll remember, the heavily muscled Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who will always get to keep his nickname) also had a chance to step into Joe Don’s chili-stained boots in the remake of Walking Tall, but failed to convince any audience members, even WWE junkies, that he wasn’t seriously miscast. Still, action, excitement, all the things that these Jedi need not, Arnold Schwarzenegger excels at such endeavors in ways that only he can.
The Last Stand also has a pretty stellar supporting cast, including: Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Battlefield Earth), Zach Gilford (“Friday Night Lights”), Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights, Traffic, Waiting…), Rodrigo Santoro (300, “Lost”), Jamie Alexander (Thor), Peter Stormare (Fargo, Armageddon), Johnny Knoxville (Jackass 3D, “Jackass”), and Harry Dean Stanton (you know he is; if you don’t, that’s your problem, not mine). Most of those names, even in spite of their sometimes questionable choices, are almost always a bonus in whatever project they’re currently working on, and the movie will also be the English language debut of Kim Jee-Woon (The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, A Tale of Two Sisters), so Stand ought to at least have more visual flair than most of Schwarzenegger’s filmography. And if Luis Guzman ends up being the fleeing drug kingpin, that will instantly elevate Schwarzenegger’s cinematic re-debut to Must-See status.
But really, it is too bad this isn’t The Governator: The Movie, a Michael Baynis film, as that premise would be amazing for those of us who still appreciate ironic detachment. Or who drink heavily. Makes perfect sense to me, anyway, only I would replace his kid sidekicks with other retired, or fallen-on-hard-times, actors who utilize some heretofore unknown talent in order to help Ah-Nuld stop evil robots and their equally evil non-robotic ilk. Imagine D.B. Sweeney as a sophisticated gear head who designs technologically advanced vehicles, Jaleel White as a computer savant who can break into CIA servers without also breaking a sweat, or Justine Bateman as a demolitions expert.
You’d watch the shit out of that. Don’t even lie.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force and tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar. He better get some of the back-end money when Hollywood turns “The Governator” cartoon concept into a live-action, big budget extravaganza. He’s just sayin’.