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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Last Stand

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Forest Whitaker and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in a scene from the movie "The Last Stand."
A souped-up Corvette gets more screen time than star Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Last Stand" (Lionsgate), a formulaic shoot-'em-up action flick that marks Schwarzenegger's return to leading-man roles.

Guns go a-blazin' when Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), the leader of a Mexican drug cartel, escapes custody just as he's being sent to death row. He outwits the feds, led by agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker).

Key to the plot, Cortez also is a skilled race-car driver and his Corvette can hit speeds of nearly 200 mph.

He's planning to cross the border at a narrow canyon near Sommerton, Ariz. Out to stop him is the town's sheriff, ex-Los Angeles police officer Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger). Sommerton's a sleepy place and Owens' deputies are clownish until faced with this unprecedented challenge.

Cortez has a hostage in tow, FBI agent Ellen Richards (Genesis Rodriguez), while Owens has his deputies and an ally in local loon Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville).

The big finale includes a car chase through a cornfield and considerable gunfire aimed at an empty school bus. Schwarzenegger doesn't chase the bad guys; they come to him. Convenient that, given his age.

Director Kim Jee-Woon and screenwriter Andrew Knauer stick mostly to the car-chase genre while failing to give Schwarzenegger a single good one-liner, unless you count, "Dese tings are all connected."

Meandering mayhem for the sturdy and mature only.

The film contains considerable violence, including much gunplay, occasional profanity and frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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