True Lies

"When he said I do, he never said what he did."

Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite Shwarzenegger movies, True Lies. This movie proves the rule that I will always be convinced of:; James Cameron makes good action movies. The instant he tries to stretch beyond that scope in any way, trying to make something 'significant' or dramatic, you end up with Titanic, or Avatar, two movies which I cannot express sufficient dislike for. When he isn't trying to be super deep man, He has pretty consistently produces good action flicks (Terminator 1 and 2, Aliens, and of course this movie). The best part of this movie, and the part that so many reviewers seemed to miss, is that it never stops to take itself very seriously. A lot of the complaints reviewers seemed to have at the time this movie came out dealt with the improbability of various scenes, and those people are really missing the point. The movie is action, but it's also comedy. Let's get right to it!

Watch Arnold make Bill Paxton pee his pants in fear.
True Lies is a 1994 action film about a operative for a secret government agency trying to stop a terrorist cell from detonating a nuclear bomb for really stereotypical terrorist reasons. It's worth noting that these guys are Islamic terrorists, and I consider now that a campy action movie about terrorism would probably never get green-lit in this post 9/11 world. Anyway, the trick to this whole story is that Harry (that's Ahhnold) has kept his line of work secret from his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and his daughter (A wee little- Eliza Dushku). His wife thinks he's a boring business guy, and so she ends up mixed up with "Simon" a used-car salesman who pretends to be a secret agent to pick up ladies (Bill Paxton). In between actually doing his job Harry uses his top secret government resources to spy on his wife, and later take out a little payback on Simon, in one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie.

Also Arnold classes it up for a bit.
I've seen people wonder out loud about whether this movie is a better comedy or action flick, and I would be hard pressed to make a decision about that one way or the other. This movie is unarguably very funny, filled with comic gold that is sometimes deliberate, and other times might just be a result of Arnold's inadvertently amusing performance. As an action movie this also succeeds in a big way; I mean it's a James Cameron movie with Shwarzenegger in it so you know the chops are there. There are gunfights in public bathrooms, Motorcycle/Horse chases, flamethrower lake, and good old fashioned fisticuffs. This movie also has one of the best finales in an action movie, one that Kick-Ass rips off to some extent and minus an awesome pun one-liner from Ahnold.

I actually forgot she was in this for a while.
This movie was also supported by a pretty terrific supporting cast. Tom Arnold plays Harry's partner, Charlton Heston plays the Nick Fury-esque director of Harry's secret agency, and Tia Carrerre who you may know as Wayne's girlfriend Cassandra in Wayne's World, plays an evil bitch. Eliza Dushku, who would later find success as Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more recently as the star of the Fox tv series Dollhouse, got her first big role in this movie as Harry's snotty teenage daughter who almost falls off a harrier jet. She regrettably never stopped being snotty.

Also a kiss in front of a nuclear explosion.
True Lies ended its theatrical run as the third highest grossing movie of 1994, and that was good. For a lot of reasons Shwarzenegger's previous movie Last Action Hero (a movie that's liable to crop up here before long) grossed abysmally, so True Lies was a strong come back for him. The film has been criticized for portraying an anti-muslim, anti-arab attitude, and also for being misogynistic towards its female characters. Either argument might have a point, but frankly I think that the movie just isn't serious enough to make a good argument on either score. The movie isn't trying to make statements, it's trying to blow things up. Lots of things. it's worth noting that Jamie Lee Curtis knicked a Golden Globe for best actress off of this movie.

Bottom-line: if you want to watch a movie that won't make you think, but will entertain you for its duration, then this is a good candidate, and if you like Shwarzenegger or action movies, then you have no excuse not seeing this movie. On Thursday I talk about my Dark Knight Rises reactions, before I succumb once more to  my advanced stage Willis syndrome.
Spoilers he's a cop in this movie.

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