Friday, November 9, 2012

Film Friday: True Lies (1994)

True Lies fascinates me. When it came out, the action genre was played out. Spy movies, like the James Bond franchise, were mired in mediocrity. Schwarzenegger had come off his first true failure in Last Action Hero. And Tom Arnold was intensely disliked. This thing had all the hallmarks of being a dud. Yet, it proved to be one of the best action films of all time.

** spoiler alert **
The Plot
On the surface, True Lies is a Tom Clancy-like action film. It centers around Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), a member of an elite agency charged with protecting the world from terrorists. Harry is the best of the best and is capable of an amazing number of borderline-impossible physical tasks. He’s James Bond on steroids. His partner Gib (Tom Arnold) is the typical sidekick one finds in these stories, who does all the leg work to allow Harry to be the hero. Together they need to stop an Islamic terrorist who has gotten his hands on two nuclear bombs.
But that’s not really what this film is about.

At its core, True Lies is a romantic comedy about the relationship between Harry and his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis). Harry cannot tell Helen what he does for a living, so he pretends to be a boring computer salesman. He is so dull that Helen has become bored and finds herself enticed into considering an affair. . . sort of. . . with “Simon” (Bill Paxton), a sleazy used car salesman who pretends to be a spy to trick Curtis into coming to his home. Harry discovers this and abuses his power with the agency to uncover what is going on and then to make an attempt to win back Helen. But things go awry as his day job stumbles upon the game he is playing with his wife. Soon, Helen learns the truth and the rest of the film is about them resurrecting their relationship in light of the lies Harry had been telling. Oh, and they need to stop Miami from going up in smoke and save their daughter.
What Drives This Film
True Lies should be a template for how to make an effective action film. First, you have all the usual bells and whistles – exotic locations, amazing stunts, fantastic effects, and huge stakes between the bad guys and the good guys. Indeed, the explosion of the bridge is perhaps one of the best effects/scenes in action movie history, and the fight scenes are executed brilliantly. But what sets this film apart is not the action scenes, it’s what happens between the action scenes.
For one thing, the relationship between Harry and Gib is fantastic. Like all sidekicks, Tom Arnold is here to provide comic relief. But unlike most sidekicks, he’s got a strong character himself. In many ways, he’s more capable and more rational than Harry. He’s the guy who really makes the team click. And that allows their banter to be that much more fun. In effect, their relationship is that of any standard buddy film, where the two characters are equals who get along well despite their differences, and it is because they are equals that the relationship is simultaneously frustrating and rewarding. This choice makes their moments together so much stronger than most hero/sidekick moments, where the sidekick does little more than set up the lines for the hero.

Secondly, the entire subplot between Harry, Helen and “Simon” gives this film heart. Name another action film that takes forty minutes out of its plot to do something that isn’t related to the bad guy’s scheme? There isn’t one because that rarely works. But it works here because this subplot is brilliantly woven into the main plot because of the ironic coincidence of “Simon” pretending to be a spy while Harry is pretending not to be a spy and because of the way it pulls Helen into Harry’s real life. It also smartly lets the plot develop without the filmmaker needing to show every aspect of the bad guy’s plan. Instead, the bad guy’s plan advances while you are watching the “Simon” story and you pick up right at the exciting parts.
Third, you have the romantic aspect of this film. In this case, Cameron brilliantly plays upon the most common complaints of both men and women when it comes to relationships. For men, you have the “my wife doesn’t understand me” aspect of Harry not being able to convince his wife that he’s not boring. For women, you have the escapism of wanting to find a romantic-hero, like a spy, when you’re married to a dull, but decent man. Moreover, the film resolves perfectly as both get exactly what they want. Harry’s wife realizes he’s not dull and actually takes an interest in his life, which makes him happy. Meanwhile, Helen discovers that her “dull and safe” husband really has an exciting hidden side, which makes her happy. And to cap it all off, they both realize that they really do love each other no matter what. Each of those ideas taps directly into the needs of men and women in relationships and makes the film fulfilling to both genders.
Finally, this film is a brilliant comedy. This film is awash in humor that arises out of the story and which is organic to the characters. There is no forced humor here, nor is the humor assigned to just one character. To the contrary, each character has ample moments to deliver humor and almost all of those moments are things to which you can relate. And that is a key point because it keeps the humor fresh year after year because it doesn’t rely on punch lines, it relies on you relating to those same moments in your own life. That’s very well done.

True Lies is a film that blew me away the first time I saw it, and it’s proven to have amazing staying power. It’s also a film that just doesn’t grow old. And the reason for that is that this film focuses on the relationships of the characters, not on the plot. They need to make more movies like this.


Individualist said...

True Lies is probably Arnold Schwarzenegger's best film performance. I don't think the movie would have worked with any other actress. No actress who is as sexy as Jamie Lee Curtis could have convincingly played the frumpy housewife. Plus she comes off as intelligent and not a barbie doll.

Ironically enough the film foreshadowed the upcoming conflict we would have with radical Islam so it had some bearing in reality.

K said...

"No accounting for taste" - a wise proverb

Personally, I found "True Lies" to be a so-so movie and disturbing for a reason that I will get to.

While the action was pretty solid, Arnold trying to do the James Bond trick stuck out like a sore thumb. I can only assume the slow of tongue and wooden acting Austrian strongman attempting to emulate the truly suave and socially sophisticated 007 was some kind of ironical humor from director Cameron, but I found it more awkward than amusing.

The second act of the comedy slowed the film and for me, was embarrassingly trite. The scene where the Bill Paxton character wets his pants and where Arnold "teaches his wife a lesson" didn't mesh with the rest of the story. It also struck me as cruel and not funny.

Finally, the bad guy was obviously a racial arab. Cameron attempted to compensate for this by having another obvious arab working for the CIA. Nevertheless, the bad guy suffers one of the most humiliating endings in the history of bad guy films and I remember at the time being uncomfortable about it.

That feeling came back with a vengeance after 9/11 when they were interviewing the arab street about the WTC attack. Reference was made to this movie - specifically, as I remember it, that they rejoiced that terrorists won and America had no Arnold to save them. I still wonder if this movie had some relationship to the people who put the attack together and if it wasn't a factor in their planning if not their fanaticism.

I also wonder if Hollywood realizes this connection and has subsequently made damn sure they no longer had arabs as bad guys.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Is this your idea of "surly"? :-)

I've always liked this movie and I have to watch it every time it comes on TV (the DVD is ancient and non-anamorphic so I don't own it yet - I'm patiently waiting for a Blu-Ray).

I absolutely love the first act, the fancy party, the lovely Tia Carrere, Charlton freakin' Heston with an eyepatch (!), and the chase through the hotel, with LA not doing a good job of doubling for DC (the buildings are too high).

But I think the second act drags a little bit. I get it and it's fun to watch Paxton and his 'stache try to BS Arnold (I love his obnoxious laugh in the test drive scene) but it just slows everything down and I think it meanders a little bit till the big raid on Paxton's trailer.

I enjoy it but I think some folks at the time thought Curtis' dance routine was all a bit misogynistic.

Oh, and one thing people forget is that, while Cameron no doubt made it his own, this film is actually based on a French comedy La Totale!.

Anonymous said...

K -

I wouldn't call the second act "trite" but, as I mentioned above, I agree that it slows everything down. And you're right - Cameron made one of the heroes Middle Eastern to make up for the bad guys being Middle Eastern. In lesser hands, it may have seemed too obvious but it works for me here without sticking out. And he gets chewed out by Charlton Heston who has one of my favorite lines:

"So what makes you think that the slack I cut Harry in any way translates to you?":-)

I'm the last person qualified to talk about geopolitics but I'm pretty sure they hated us before this film. I don't know if there was any one factor (in terms of pop culture) that contributed to the 9/11 attacks but if it wasn't this film, it would've been another one. For example, a film I enjoy called Executive Decision, which was released in 1996 and features Arab terrorists hijacking a plane.

And in the interests of fairness, it would be nice to see them as villains again without people bitching about it. Hollywood can only do Russians so many times!

Mountain Man said...

Fact of the matter is that there are bad people who happen to be arabs/muslims who want to kill us in the worst way. But hollywood by and large avoids this plotline, routinely substituting eeeeevil capitalists and christians as their bad guys.

I think it's totally appropriate to have plotlines that involve actual bad guys in the world we live in. In the same way, why aren't their more bad guys who happen to be gay, or civil rights activists, feminists?

tryanmax said...

Andrew, forget these nay-sayers! They're just trying to suck the fun out of it. ;-)

This film does hold up remarkably well, which is odd for an action film as they are almost always dated. My favorite bit is the truth-serum scene where Arnold tells the guy exactly how he's going to kill him right before he does. Probably the brightest bit of dark humor ever written. And Tom Arnold really impresses me in this film. What works for me is that he is perfectly sophomoric, not too witty, but not too dumb, either.

K, I think the "no Arnold" reference had less to do with any specific film and more to do with the fact that even now he is still considered the prototypical American action hero. I must disagree that the villain's death is humiliating. A humiliating death in cinema is a gut shot and being left for dead but not actually dying on screen. Being carried off by a rocket-powered missile and exploding into a helicopter is a blaze of glory with an appropriately comedic twist. Basic rule: the better the villain, the more spectacular the death.

Scott, this is what feminism has done to us: a man finding his wife sexy is misogynistic.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I think it is Schwarzenegger's best film and one reason is that he doesn't need to carry the whole film for once. Instead, he's surrounded by good actors playing very well written characters. So this doesn't even feel like a Schwarzenegger film per se.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I put no credence in people being upset that "one of their own" was made a bad guy in a film. That's really pathetic on their parts. I don't dispute it, but I think it's laughable.

You are right, however, that Hollywood has since stopped using Arabs as bad guys. They only use them as victims of racism now.

As for the film, opinions may vary, but I really enjoyed this film on many levels and it has proven to have strong staying power, which suggests it's found a solid audience.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I didn't have time for surly. ;)

I know some people were upset about various things in this film, but honestly, I don't care. I see those complaints as political correctness and my response is, "get over it." Honestly, I think Hollywood needs to take more risks and to stop worrying about offending people.

What makes the dance work in particular is (1) he screws it up with the audio tape, and (2) the bad guys arrive and then Curtis is REALLY pissed at Arnold.

As for LA being DC, yeah, I laughed pretty hard about that.... not even close!!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Since the 1950s, Arab leaders have been demonizing the US to distract from their own failures. Basically, the US subverts their economies, sponsors terrorists who attack the regimes, starves them, etc. They also accuse us of sponsoring Israel, which they accuse of everything from causing food poisoning to murders on the street, etc. This is why they hate us.

This film is irrelevant to that, it's just one more "insult" to people who want to be insulted. The problem is theirs, not any real offense on our part. In fact, make the villain any other race and you will see that no one would be upset (except China, because they are highly nationalistic/racist at the moment).

AndrewPrice said...

Mountain Man, I totally agree. But this is identity politics and the way Hollywood works, only certain people can be bad guys.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. This is a fun film and it holds up remarkably well. It doesn't feel dated, the jokes aren't stale and the action sequences are done so well that they don't lose their awe. That bridge blowing up is great every time!

There's a lot of dark humor in this and I think it really holds up. In fact, all the humor holds up. On Tom Arnold, you may not know this, being younger, but Arnold really was disliked at the time. He had just gone through a nasty public divorce and was all over the tabloids and people saw him as a real jerk. One of the jokes at the time was that "True Lies does the impossible, it makes Tom Arnold likable!"

And you are right, his character is the right mix exactly of sophomoric and yet serious/competent.

I think what people were upset about with Arnold/Curtis was that he was abusing his power to put her into a sexual situation. And admittedly, he's not a very nice person. Kidnapping her and threatening her is not a decent thing to do. BUT it's a film... it's humor. Humor always borders on the inappropriate. Humor is about people getting hurt or embarrassed. It's about the abnormal and pushing limits.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, believe it or not, I was very aware of the Tom Arnold/Rosanne divorce at the time. Frankly, I was then and am now still baffled why he was painted as the jerk. Maybe b/c Rosanne was the one with the hit TV show and he was seen as riding her coattails.

For me, the meanness of the kidnapping, etc. fits with the character and the story. He wanted to teach his wife and Paxton a lesson, really, not as some revenge thing. They wanted to play at espionage and he just intended to give them a real taste without really putting them in danger. Then, of course, all hell breaks loose.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think he was seen as the bad guy because she was on a popular show and he came across as kind of a jerk. In any event, I think this film saved his image.

I don't think what Harry does with the kidnapping is right and I'm not quite as willing to think he's doing it for their benefit, but I'm not going to get upset about it because this is an unusual story. He's a larger-than-life spy, he's going to solve his problems in larger-than-life ways. And it's not like the film advocates what he does. To the contrary, it all keeps going wrong for him and eventually put his entire family in danger because of the way he acts.

tryanmax said...

I should probably also note that my dad would handle things about the same as Arnold does were he in the same situation, so...

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Is he a spy? ;)

rlaWTX said...

I enjoyed this movie when it came out, and I enjoy it whenever I catch it on TV. It's fun, it's interesting, the main characters are likeable, and you want to root for Helen & Harry.

I am racking my mind for the rest of a tempting piece of memory where some recent movie or TV show used the truth serum scene and had a take-off. ARG! It's right there at the tip of my brain...

Tennessee Jed said...

I kind of agree with your assessment, Andrew and the "kind of" tag is actually reflective of a difference of degree in our enthusiasm. Put differently, it's not that I disagree with your assessments Ironic this one came up today in the wake of yesterday's comments regarding Schwarzenegger. I always felt he did a great job in choosing his roles, keeping within the safety of what he could do best. Later, he drifted into comedy, and while probably not as successful in that genre as with action, he pulled it off better than one might expect. This film sort of combines the two, catching Arnold at his best. Speaking of Tom Arnold, he wasn't particularly likable, but actually could do a pretty decent job with a particular type of role. In any event , he was far more talented than Roseanne, his pig. And what is not to like about Jaimie Lee Curtis who has fought bravely against trying to stereotype all movie women as having to be unrealistically hot (hello Demi Moore.)

My first recollection of this film was how impressed I was with the special effects at the time it was released. My second recollection is that when I first saw it, while I was hardly put off by the romantic comedy aspects, it did slow the film down a tad. That recollection may be a tad harsh in retrospect.

So, why don't I join you in hailing this as one of the best of all time? Probably nothing more than a personal taste for realism. That is the reason From Russia with Love is near the top of my list along with Eye of the Needle or Day of the Jackal. So no big disagreement, just a matter of preference with the overall genre.

Tennessee Jed said...

I left out part of my comment because of outside distraction. I concur that far too many of today's "action" genre movies are far too devoid of plot, and just learch from one big special effects scene to the next. True Lies does an excellent job of not falling into that lazy writer's trap.

Anthony said...

The only part of True Lies I liked was the intro. The fight and the horse/motorcyle chase were both awesome.

The middle just felt pointless and the ending was a letdown because it had a big slaughter scenes (fine and good) but not a big fight (heresy).

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I think the relationship between Harry and Helen is very well cast. You do want it to work for them and I think what makes you feel that way is that both want to win the other back. And I think the actors do ultimately have solid chemistry.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Reasonable minds can differ in questions of taste! What I really like about this film is that it's an action film, but it's so much more. When I look at all the other action films before and after, they really are just collections of fight scenes with minimal plots to hold these scenes together.

This one fills in the gap with this second story, the romance between Harry and Helen, and that makes it a lot more satisfying as a film rather than seeing scenes where Arnold hunts down minor bad guys on his way to getting the big boss.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I love the horse/motorcycle chase, especially the joke about "my horse is getting tired" and then when the horse refuses to jump off the building.

Sorry you don't like the rest. :(

Anthony said...


I have 'meat and potatoe' taste in movies (as I've said before, I enjoyed Dredd) so in an objective sense, you're probably right and I'm probably wrong :).

K said...

Andrew: Yes, Charlton Heston's over the top performance and character was the highlight of the film.

Stuff like racial balancing PC tends to stand out for me. Probably because I've read too many Linda Seger books.

Question: If this was the only James Cameron movie you ever saw, would you characterize him as left or right politically? Remember, this was way before 9/11.

K said...

you're probably right and I'm probably wrong :).

"Never give up, never surrender!"

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, There's no such thing as right/wrong in matters of taste. :)

AndrewPrice said...

K, I would probably characterize him as right-wing if this was all I knew about him. The film is pro-family and anti-adultery. It's also patriotic (US working to save the world). It's clear on terrorism being black and white as compared to shades of gray. It didn't try to make the bad guys into capitalists or Christian fundamentalists. It didn't include environmental propaganda. There are no nanny-state messages like "don't smoke."

What would you think?

Anonymous said...

I like the movie without loving it. I love action movies and hate romance movies and this probably the only on that melded the two and it did better than most with adding the comedy to the action.

I agree with Andrew in that the movie doesn't feel like a Schwarzenegger film. Though it did have some Schwarzenegger-isms but not to the detriment of the film.

The final scene didn't really do it for me, it was a little to over the top for me. I would have preferred a more simple shoot out and something only slightly impossible as opposed to borderline laughable.


Individualist said...


The first World Trade Center bombing (the one that failed) was in 1993. Al Qeauda had declared they were going to attack us well before that.

Bin Ladin himslef decided to act on his hatred for America because he was exiled from his Native Saudi Arabia for speaking out against allowing American troops in the country in Gulf War I.

So I would gently suggest this is Art imitating life and not Life imitating Art.

K said...

I'm not sure the first attack was strongly linked to Al Qaeda. One of the conspirators had spent time in an AQ camp but it's not apparent he was a member. The movie may have been in response to the first WTC attack but that doesn't mean it didn't inspire the planners for 9/11.

Andrew:Let's just say that after Aliens and True Lies I got the feeling Cameron had conservative sympathies. After Terminator 2 and AVATAR I knew that wasn't the case.

EricP said...

I realize I'm in the minority in the face of popular opinion with two of the greatest action movies of all time, but as with Terminator 2, think this movie suffers from Cameron-itis (over-indulgence variety), and could stand to be trimmed by about 20-30 minutes.

Anthony said...


The reason I can't stand to watch Terminator 2 is that hateful kid (John Conners). He yells for help, a couple guys ask him if he needs help, he has the Terminator beat them. The are horror movies with villians I've felt more sympathy for.

T-Rav said...

I liked this movie pretty well although I did think it got carried away at times. This may be my personal thing, but I didn't think Curtis was the best choice for her role. Too...something.

Personally, I thought the "getting rocket launched into a helicopter" thing was hilarious.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, In truth, I think the final scene was a bridge too far, as often happens in modern films. A smaller shoot out would have been more satisfying.

I think it's interesting that of all of Arnold's films, this is the "least Arnold" to me (except for Conan) and it's one of my favorites. I guess the lesson is that I like him as an actor a lot, but I don't like him carrying the film on his own.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's true, but even more so, this stuff goes way back. The US has been the bad guy in the Middle East for generations. Our enemies obviously hate us (with Soviet backing and later Islamic backing) and our friends use us as a scapegoat knowing that it's safe to use us in this manner because we don't walk away or topple governments.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I agree with that. Aliens and True Lies struck me as solidly conservative films (though in hindsight, I can see liberal boogeymen appearing in Aliens), but then he went WAY out there in film after film and left me with no doubt that he's an angry progressive/leftist.

On the first World Trade Center bombing, there is a connection, but I think it wasn't until after the attack that the "mastermind" hooked up with al Qaeda. I think they were just fellow travelers with a Muslim Brotherhood connection before that.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, It's never bothered me in this film. I can see where it could be trimmed, but I like the film as it is.

But you are right that Cameron really does need to learn to trim his films -- especially his more recent films.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That scene always bothered me too. Plus, I think the kid is a snot all around. I've often wondered why they included that scene? Was it meant to show the kid is a jerk who later grows up? Or did Cameron just think it was funny? I'm not sure. If he thought it was funny, then he's definitely got a bully's sense of humor.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, To me, the final scene is a bit over the top. I don't hate it, but I would have gone a different direction to end the film.

I like Curtis in the role, though I have to admit that she (as frumpy housewife) and Arnold don't match well. They do later, but they aren't as easy to believe initially.

Mycroft said...

"What kind of sick b!tch takes the ice cube trays out of the refrigerator?"

True Lies is one of those movies that you run across while channel surfing and just have to finish watching it.

rlaWTX said...

Mycroft, I have that response too! :)

Happy weekend, y'all!

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, LOL! What a great line! And so true. I can't tell you how many times I've stopped on this film once I ran across it. This film is just full of great moments and great lines...

"Did you ever kill anyone?"
"Yes, but they were all bad!"

LOL! :)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Happy weekend! :)

Anonymous said...

Andrew, thanks for going overtime, and hosting two films this week. I was sad not to hear about Star Trek last Tuesday.

Although, my favorite line from this film, is when Arnold says, from the Harrier Jet cockpit, "You're Fired", somehow it gives me a sense that Donald Trump never mastered that quote quite right.

T-Rav said...

Heh heh....I like that bit of dialogue too. Also the "You're fired!" line.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, True! It's a lot funnier when he says it than when Trump says it!

Star Trek will be back at some point, but for now we're taking a little break, and Star Wars seemed to be a natural to take its place for a while!

You're welcome on the films, but I have to credit Scott with the Batman review, that was his baby! But it has been a very busy week.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, This film really is full of fun little memorable lines. It's very well written.

darski said...

Boy do I feel old... I remember renting this on VHS O_o

I liked it and laughed through it all.

I admit that the 'dance' scene went well into creepy. It was out of line with the rest of the film as a man who loved his wife would not treat her like a cheap harlot.

I'm thinking I might just go over a couple of scenes at You Tube.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Re: Cameron's politics, I know you'll say I'm wrong but it is entirely possible that he's far-left on environmental stuff but leans towards the right when it comes to terrorism (and he's definitely pro-gun). People are complex, they have multitudes... to borrow a phrase. :-)

It's funny... Titanic was probably the perfect length, Avatar was too long, and both Aliens and The Abyss have much longer cuts available. Makes me wonder what, if anything, is missing from THIS film. I know the trailer has some material that was cut, including Heston on the phone with the president.

I was 11 when this was released but I do vaguely recall the Roseanne/Tom Arnold mess. Tom appeared at the Comedy Central roast of Roseanne (which was otherwise not that funny) and he was quite eloquent and sincere. I got the impression it was a last-minute thing.

AndrewPrice said...

darski, I think a lot of people thought the scene went too far. I wonder if Cameron ever thinks about whether or not he would include it again?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Somehow, their divorce really had become a national issue somehow. I'm not sure why though.

It's always interesting to see what they took out of films. I've never seen any extra features on this, so I don't know, but I can say that I think the extra footage in Aliens adds value, but the extra footage in The Abyss detracts. I'm not a fan of Titanic.

I would assume that Cameron is basically a leftist, but I don't have personal knowledge. His movies are full of anti-American, anti-white, anti-male, anti-capitalism, anti-military, and pro-rabid environmentalism messages.

I'm not sure of his views on guns.

T-Rav said...

I read somewhere (I think it was on BH) that when making the Terminator movies, Cameron personally fired off shotguns to understand how they worked and make the effects more realistic. So I don't guess he hates guns that much.

I liked Titanic the first few times I saw it, but more and more the characters come off to me as one-dimensional and the dialogue kind of repetitive and cliched. Just my feeling.

AndrewPrice said...

Titanic just never worked for me. I can't say why, but it just bored me from start to finish.

darski said...

I take it as a source of (non-biblical) pride that I can go into heaven never having seen "Titanic". It is my only source of pride and a joy forever. Since I know how it ended what was the interest? :D

AndrewPrice said...

darski, This version had a gun fight near the end... very historical.

Still, I commend you! :)

T-Rav said...

We also got to see Leonardo DiCaprio drown/die of hypothermia. Which is too bad, since I guess he never found out if he was living in the dream or in reality.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice! That took me a moment to put together: Inception plus Titanic!

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I'm generally not a fan of movies that are 'vehicles' for actors as the story tends to be an afterthought to showing off the actor. I don't know if this movie was written for or with Arnold in mind, but he fits him well. But the role could have been done successfully with another actor.

I've never seen Titanic all the way through, I watched the sinking part on TV once and it was pretty spectacular, but I had no interest at all of watching the whole thing.


AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm not either. Those types of films generally stink. I would bet that this film was not written with Arnold in mind at all because it really doesn't fit his style. My guess is that they wrote it for any sort of A-lister and Arnold was the one who got chosen and then they tinkered a bit to give it some "Arnoldisms."

shawn said...

True Lies was Cameron's last great movie. He made more money with Titanic and Avatar but they both have their problems.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I agree. After this, it was all downhill and it sounds like it's going to keep going that way.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Great review, Andrew!

I love this film! The scene with the harrier was over the top but other than that everything else worked for me.

Tom Arnold shines in roles like this one.

I actually liked the dance scene. Funny and sensual and a hot Jamie Lee Curtis.

Because of an excellent supporting cast and good writing, I think the film also helped Arnold expand the roles he can play and he's more than one dimensional.
He can do action/adsventure and comedy (Jingle All The Way was hilarious as was Kindergarten Cop but again, there were outstanding supporting stars and good writing.

I concur, True Lies is probably the last great Cameron film.
He and Oliver Stone have lost their marbles.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! I like the dance scene, but I see where it's creepy and over the top. But I realize that it's also meant to be larger than life and I like it in that context. If this was a more realistic movie, I would be pretty creeped out by it.

I think you're right that the supporting cast really lifts Arnold in this role and makes him a better actor than he normally is.

Yeah, Stone and Cameron lost it.

Fabrica said...

Once again, Arnie and Cameron team up to deliver a terrific action film.

Arnie stars as a secret agent posing as a computer salesman. Not even his wife knows his true identity and since he is always busy she decides to have a little excitement and hooks up with a nitwit posing as a secret agent! In the mean while, in trying to get her back, Arnie gets his family inadvertently pushed into a plot, by terrorists to nuke the USA! Preposterous? Yes! Hilarious? YES!!!

The resulting film has Arnie chasing motorcycles on horseback through hotels all the way to "borrowing" Harrier jets from the military. And, of course, getting his wife and daughter back.

Packed with awesome action scenes and some really terrific hilarious moments this is what an action movie should be. Not too serious and not too pointless. 8/10

AndrewPrice said...

Farbica, I agree. This was an excellent film all around.

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