The 2000s started rough for Schwarzenegger in theatres. Then he ran for and was elected Governor of California, effectively removing him from the cinema until around 2010. By that point he was 63 years old and still charismatic but not nearly as insanely fit as he had once been—which only makes sense by the way. More problematic and troubling, he was hit with sex scandals including the revelation that he impregnated a mistress but had largely been absent from the resulting son’s life.
Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies from 2000 to Today (Roughly Chronological)
1.) The Last Stand- A straight ahead action that, while nothing special, proves Schwarzenegger can still hold the center of a movie and convincingly run, jump, fight, and gun.
2.) Escape Plan- If you want to scratch your nostalgic itch by seeing Sly and Arnold share the screen, skip THE EXPENDABLES and go to this one instead. The two get to play fellow prisoners/frenemies, letting you imagine that this is how these two sparred back in their heydays. Both players nicely enact their brand—Stallone is mission focused, humorless, and humane, Schwarzenegger is seemingly reckless but actually wily and wounded in a present but nebulous kind of way.
3.) Sabotage- Arnold is very good in this, the rest of the movie is not. But if you like the Austrian Oak and want to see him turn in a strong performance, that might be enough to carry you through this one.
4.) Maggie- The best entry in what critic Matt Singer has highlighted as Schwarzenegger’s flawed fathers trying to do right when it is too late to make a difference. The rare zombie film with clear understandable rules that manages to consistently wring emotions and pathos throughout the film.
5.) Aftermath- Basically a two-hander between Ah-nuld and the improbably named Scoot McNary. Schwarzenegger is a grieving dad and husband, McNary is the air traffic controller who he blames for their death. A revenge movie that is almost entirely without elaborate action scenes, Arnie delivers the emotions as the damaged dad who, like his MAGGIE character, is trying to become a good dad when the time has already slipped away.
Special Note: Schwarzenegger makes a very brief appearance in THE RUNDOWN, symbolically passing the action torch to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It turned out he was jumping the gun by five or so years, but it is still a fun coronation in a good action comedy.