He said he'd be back.
Put aside his extended cameo roles in The Expendables and The Expendables 2, and The Last Stand represents Arnold Schwarzenegger's first starring role in a movie since 2003, when he came back as a killer cyborg in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
The Austrian-born ex-bodybuilder was distracted for a few years as a two-term governor of California (2003-2011) and now emerges for his second term as a movie star at the age of 65 with a movie in which his border town sheriff is pitted against the forces of the ruthless fugitive leader of a Mexican drug cartel.
Unfortunately, in the low-attention-span world in which we live, he has largely been written off as a retro joke to young, contemporary cineastes.
With that in mind, here's everything you need to know about Arnold Schwarzenegger 2012.
1. Bodybuilding was not a bad way to get into movies in the '70s.
The first time I saw Schwarzenegger on film was in Robert Altman's cheeky Raymond Chandler ode The Long Goodbye (1973), in which he played a bit part as a muscular mute bodyguard. He is, at one point, obliged to get naked at the behest of his deranged boss (played by director Mark Rydell). A few years later, he demonstrated undeniable charm (in addition to a formidable physique) playing a bodybuilder not unlike himself in the 1976 comedy Stay Hungry opposite Jeff Bridges and Sally Field.
2. No other actor has overcome his limitations more than Arnie.
His thick Austrian accent would have undone most actors attempting a serious film career, but Schwarzenegger proved to be both lucky in getting roles and canny in his choices, especially in his breakthrough movie Conan the Barbarian (1982), playing the titular warrior-primitive.
His accent wasn't all that inappropriate for a movie that kicks off with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche. Later, it would prove to be a bit of a stretch when he took on characters with white-bread names such as "Adam Gibson" and "Gordy Brewster."
3. Just because you're not a great actor doesn't mean you can't make great
In interviews, Schwarzenegger has said the first Hollywood feature film he remembers seeing in his native Austria starred John Wayne. That may have provided a valuable lesson when it comes to earning the status of a screen icon with not all that much acting talent. In 1984, Schwarzenegger formed his most important relationship with a filmmaker when he teamed with James Cameron on The Terminator, playing the relentless killer cyborg of the title. Within the action/sci-fi genre, he made his best films, which remain highly entertaining today, including Predator (1987), Total Recall (1990), and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
4. Not all his choices were that savvy.
While Schwarzenegger was a hit machine through the '80s and '90s, most of his films don't stand up, especially the high-concept comedy Kindergarten Cop (1990), his pregnant-man farce Junior (1994), and the Christmas comedy Jingle All the Way (1996). Schwarzenegger experienced box office fallibility in the dreadful The Last Action Hero (1993) and major critical disapproval in his worst film, Batman and Robin (1997), in which he was top-billed as villain Mr. Freeze, even above George Clooney's Batman. It turned out: It was not the kind of film in which anyone should have sought top billing.
5. His career wasn't exactly going gangbusters prior to his run for governor.
Schwarzenegger tried to cut it as a dramatic actor in downbeat films such as End of Days (2000) and Collateral Damage (2002), with dismal results. It has been said he gauged his choice to run for governor on the box office receipts for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The movie did well, but not that well. And that meant: Hello, Sacramento.
6. You can't underestimate the power of nostalgia.
Sharing a scene with fellow '80s icons Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis in Stallone's The Expendables proved audiences still liked seeing the big guy on screen. Last year's The Expendables 2 proved they liked him even better when he was wielding a gun and ripping the door off a car. For that reason, Schwarzenegger will again team with Stallone in the jailbreak thriller The Tomb in September. Future projects include the possibility of Terminator 5 and even a sequel to the Ivan Reitman comedy Twins, called, naturally, Triplets.
The Last Stand opens in theatres Jan. 18.
You could win one of five double run-of-engagement passes to see The Last Stand, courtesy of
Just match the following quotes to the appropriate movies, and email the number-letter combos to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.
Winners will be contacted by return email and will have to pick up the passes at the Free Press's reception desk in the circulation department at 1355 Mountain Ave. during regular business hours, no later than Wednesday, Jan. 23.
1. "I like you Sully. That's why I'm going to kill you last."
2. "Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to hell with you!"
3. "I need your clothes, your boots
and your motorcycle."
4. "If it bleeds, we can kill it."
5. "Consider that a divorce."
A. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
D. Total Recall
E. Conan the Barbarian