Decades ago in The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger famously promised he'd be back. True to his word, after two terms as the governor of California, the Austrian body-builder-turned-action-hero-turned-cigar-chompin' pol has returned to the screen, first in the senior citizen smash-'em-up ensemble Expendables franchise, and now as the hero of The Last Stand, a modern-day western in which the Governator stars as a small-town sheriff.

A small-town sheriff who sports Topsiders, a leathery tan, and a Styrian accent, and who brings his experience as a former LAPD narcotics officer to bear on the population of sleepy Sommerton Junction, an Arizona burg where everybody knows everybody and the sheriff's deputies are so bored they're out at Johnny Knoxville's place shooting slabs of meat for fun. (The Jackass star inexplicably shares top billing, even though he's around only to provide intermittent slapstick relief.)

But when a notorious Mexican drug cartel king (Eduardo Noriega) escapes from federal custody and aims his Corvette ZR1 straight for the border, and straight through Sommerton Junction, Sheriff Ray Owens isn't going to let him get by. Round up the bumbling deputies (Luis Guzmán, Zach Gilford, Jaimie Alexander), pull out the vintage weaponry (Knoxville's doofus is a firearms fetishist), and let's stop this hombre.

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, the South Korean hitmaker making his U.S. debut, The Last Stand allows Schwarzenegger and company plenty of time to exhange pleasantries, and the occasional profundity ("Death is waiting for you in the kitchen when you get up in the middle of the night for a glass of milk" - really!).

But the director and his stunt team get down to business with the chases and the shootouts: police cars arcing into the air in fiery crashes, high-speed pursuits down blacktop and through crop fields, and Schwarzenegger breaking out his shotgun to blast away an army of henchmen.

Forest Whitaker plays the FBI agent, busy barking orders and arriving a couple of minutes too late to do any good. Of course he's skeptical about this bumpkin lawman at the outset, and of course he's thoroughly impressed by the end.

Almost certainly, The Last Stand will not be Schwarzenegger's last. For better or for worse (and this is somewhere right in the middle), he is back.EndText

Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.