The Last Stand Ending, Explained: Does Cortez Escape to Mexico?

Kim Jee-woon’s 2013 American directorial debut, ‘The Last Stand,’ is an action thriller movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. Alongside Schwarzenegger, it also features Jaimie Alexander, Forest Whitaker, and Luis Guzmán. The story revolves around Ray Owens, a small-town sheriff in Sommerton, Arizona. After Gabriel Cortez, a federal fugitive, plans on escaping to Mexico through Sommerton, Owens and his team of deputies have to face off against Cortez’s army of armed henchmen. ‘The Last Stand’ tells a compelling underdog story by pitching a ragtag group against an international drug cartel. Naturally, viewers must be wondering how this high-stakes journey ends for our protagonists. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Last Stand Plot Synopsis

Ray Owens is an ex-LAPD officer turned sheriff of the quiet, peaceful city of Sommerton. Sommerton barely ever sees any action, leaving Deputy Jerry Bailey wanting to transfer to LA for better career opportunities. The other Deputy, Sarah Torrance, has to deal with the only person in the station’s lockup, her ex-boyfriend, Frank. However, the mundane lives of the deputies in Sommerton change when Sherrif Owen starts picking up on some suspicious activities around town involving new truckers and a missing farmer.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the FBI is planning on moving International Drug Cartel Boss Gabriel Cortez, who is on federal death row. Their plan drastically fails when Cortez orchestrates an elaborate escape and slips out from the FBI’s custody. Agent John Bannister sets up barricades to foil Cortez’s escape out of America, but to no avail. Additionally, Cortez has one of the FBI Agents, Ellen Richards as his hostage and a highly modified race car to help him make his getaway. While Bannister has blockades and SWAT teams in different potential escape routes, he ignores the town of Sommerton because of the canyon separating it from the U.S./Mexico borders.

Back in Sommerton, while Owens and his force investigate the murder of a local farmer, Torrance and Bailey stumble across something bigger than any of them imagined. Caught in a shootout with deadly gangsters, they barely manage to escape with the help of Owens and Deputy Figuerola. In the process, Bailey is fatally shot and dies on the drive back to the station. By the time Bannister and Owens realize Cortez’s plan of fleeing to Mexico through Somemrton, it’s too late to send in an adequate cavalry. Now Owens, alongside deputies Torrance and Figuerola and new recruits Frank and weapons-fanatic Dinkum, must catch Cortez before he crosses the border.

The Last Stand Ending: Is Cortez Caught?

Gabriel Cortez is a vicious Cartel boss, even compared to Escobar by FBI Agent Bannister. After slipping from federal custody, Cortez sets his sight on an escape route to Mexico in his Corvette C6 ZR1 race car. He also has FBI Agent Richards with him as a hostage to afford himself some safety from the feds chasing after him. However, Richards’ hostage situation is, in fact, just a ruse, and the FBI Agent was working with Cortez from the start. Because of Richards, Cortez’s people have a headstart and are able to plan their final escape to Mexico. They’ve been doing construction in small-town Sommerton and working on building a mobile assault bridge across the town’s narrow canyon. Things start going south for Cortez’s men when Sommerton’s sheriff, Owens, becomes suspicious of them after they kill Parsons, the farmer.

When Torrance and Bailey interfere in their business, they easily drive away the local cops with their bigger numbers and heavier artillery. Meanwhile, Cortez takes out the SWAT team Bannister sends to Sommerton before it can reach the town. Once Owens realizes the magnitude of the situation, his team is reluctant to fight back alone at first. Eventually, they decide to work together, refusing to go out without a fight. They recruit the help of Torrance’s ex, Frank. Dinkum, the owner of the local Gun Muesuem, supplies the group with weaponry to match the cartels and gets deputized alongside Frank. Together the group fights off the gangsters.

In the end, Cortez drives through Sommerton and out to the U.S./Mexico border while Owens chases after him in the mayor’s Camaro. After both their cars crash into a farm vehicle, Cortez tries to make it to the bridge on foot. When he reaches the end of the line, Owens is waiting for him blocking his way to the other side. Cortez tries to bribe Owens and offers him millions of dollars for turning his back and letting Cortez escape. Owens doesn’t budge, and the two have a final showdown on the assault bridge. On the verge of losing their fistfight, Cortez pulls out a knife and stabs Owens with it, but ultimately Owens defeats Cortez and arrests him. He hands Cortez off to the FBI, and Cortez is taken back, presumably to death row.

Do Sarah and Frank Get Back Together?

Sarah and Frank start as exes at the beginning of the movie. Sarah is a Deputy officer who is frustrated at Frank constantly getting into trouble. Though Frank shows signs of wanting to get back together with her, Sarah is adamantly against the idea. Frank used to be a US Marine and fought in the Iraq War. He has PTSD from his military days, which is the reason behind his unfavorable actions these days. After Bailey and Sarah’s shootout against Burell and his men leaves Bailey severely injured, he rides in the backseat of Owen’s car with Sarah. As Sarah tries to keep pressure on his bullet wound, Bailey starts talking to her about Frank.

Later, when Sarah tells Frank about their friend’s death, she tells him that Bailey asked her to go easy on Frank. The next day, the two fight the cartel criminals side-by-side. Sarah plays the part of the sniper and camps out on a building roof to cover for the others down in the street. One of the bad guys spots her and goes after her. Frank notices this and chases after the guy to keep Sarah safe. They get into an altercation at the staircase, where Frank kills the guy. After witnessing the entire ordeal, Sarah meets Frank halfway in the stairwell, and the pair kiss each other.

In the aftermath, when Frank tries to return his batch to Owens, Owens tells him to keep it as he thinks Frank has earned the batch. The main reason behind Sarah’s initial anonymity towards Frank was his criminal habits. She thinks Franks has too much potential to be wasting it away and wants him to get his life together. Due to his issues, Frank is also known for not finishing the things he starts. However, his contribution in taking down Cortez proves his ability to grow and change. Similarly, by putting his own life in danger to save Sarah, he also demonstrates just how much he truly cares for her. Therefore, by the end, Sarah is ready to give their relationship another try, and the two get back together.

What Happens to Richards?

At first, Richards seems to be only a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cortez takes her as his hostage while driving across Arizona to the U.S./Mexico border. However, soon it becomes clear that Richards is actually an accomplice in Cortez’s escape. Cortez had bought Richards off in exchange for her help setting up his plans. As the two near their goal, Richards tries to make a move on Cortez. Though Cortez seems interested in her offer, he ends up pushing her out of his car to make her “look the part” of a hostage.

Eventually, Richards stumbles into Sommerton in her tattered state and finds Agent Bannister. Initially, Bannister had been extremely worried about Richards’ safety, but that changed after he had his people look into his department members’ financials. As a result, he finds out about the transaction between Cortez and Richards and realizes that Richards was Cortez’s informer. Therefore, Richards is also arrested alongside Cortez and taken into FBI custody as well.

Read More: Is The Last Stand Based on a True Story?