This is the 2013 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, not the X-Men film with which it shares a name and magnet-based prison van escape sequence.
Arnie’s post-gubernatorial comeback has a few key ingredients missing from the Contractual Obligation years, such as a premise and some jokes. The Governator gets a demotion to small-town sheriff, tasked with stopping a dangerous cartel boss (Eduardo Noriega) from crossing his quiet border town into Mexico.
He’s assisted by Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights (Zach Gilford playing another wide-eyed youngster desperate to escape the small town he’s never left) and a Police Academy-style ability to deputise anyone he wants regardless of their suitability as law enforcers, which is literally how Steven Seagal ended up killing that puppy.
One of the beneficiaries of this power is Johnny Knoxville in the role of Jackass, or more specifically an unstable individual allowed to keep an arsenal in his shed because he’s white. Also featured are Forrest Whittaker, Luis Guzmán and Peter Stormare as a man with the catchphrase: “Get the big gun!” Arnie also gives one of his more convincing performances as the unintelligible sheriff who’s clearly too old to still be doing this.
The talented South Korean director Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters, I Saw the Devil) brings boundless energy and violence (and another school bus), ensuring the action never lets up and that every scene advances the plot (sounds basic but this is an Arnie movie we’re talking about). The characters are solid and the action exciting, culminating in a cornfield chase that puts Looper to shame.