MRR's Action Movie Month - "True Lies" Review

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Arnold Schwarzzeneger is Harry Tasker, a man leading a double life. At work he is a government agent with a license to do just about anything, while at home he pretends to be a dull computer salesman. He is on the trail of stolen nuclear weapons that are in the hands of fanatic terrorists when something more important comes up. Harry finds his wife is seeing another man because she needs some adventure in her life. Harry decides to give it to her, juggling pursuit of terrorists on one hand and an adventure for his wife on the other.
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MRR Action Movie Month - "True Lies" Review

-- Rating: R (For action/violence and some language)
Length: 141 minutes
Release Date: July 15, 1994
Directed by: James Cameron
Genre: Action and thriller

In "True Lies," Harry Tasker (portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a family man with a secret life as an agent of the U.S. Secret service. He is forced to reveal his true nature when terrorists get their hands on nuclear devices and kidnap his wife. The movie was directed by James Cameron and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

"True Lies" opens as Tasker and his partner, Albert Gibson (portrayed by Tom Arnold), are trying to infiltrate a party organized by an arms dealer in his Swiss chateau. The party is tightly secured, and it is not clear at the outset how the duo intends to get in. Despite the machine guns and the guard dogs, Tasker manages to get into the party and meets the beautiful Juno Skinner (portrayed by Tia Carrere). The ensuing tango and bloody getaway are both beautifully managed by Schwarzenegger and Carrere. After he gets back to Washington, DC, Tasker's life is shattered when he learns that the arms dealer has already sold four atomic weapons to terrorists, whom Tasker and Gibson must stop.

There are several things about the movie that stand out. One of the best things about an elaborate comic thriller like "True Lies" is that the protagonist always acts out of pure pragmatism. Whatever spectacular stunts Tasker might be involved in, he is not doing them simply because he can. Each one is necessary to finish his mission.

Schwarzenegger's movies can either be flat or highly entertaining, and it is refreshing to note that "True Lies" stands out as a great film. It can be compared to his best films, including "Terminator 2" and "Total Recall."

The movie is cleverly made and has a good balance of comedy, romance, and action. The special effects are excellent, and the $120 million spent on the movie must have been used well if the blown bridge, various other explosions, and a plane rescue are anything to go by.

One thing about director Cameron is that he does not believe in doing things halfway. Some people have suggested that he approaches filmmaking with the same industriousness that a nuclear engineer would apply in his trade. Whatever drives him, his films are always artfully made. "True Lies" is comprised of acrobatic stunts, bullet-riddled action, and enough humor to keep viewers glued to the screen to the end.

The only problem with the movie is that its premise so drawn out that it doesn't find its groove until almost in the middle of its 141 minutes of screen time. The film is saved from this flaw by the marvelous performances of the actors, notably Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis (who portrays Helen Tasker), and Arnold. Curtis' performance is hilarious, and Arnold's coolness is surprising.

Movie fans love Schwarzenegger's films for many reasons, but the laugh-out-loud moments in "True Lies" will endear him to audiences. There are some cartoonish moments in this film that many will certainly struggle to take seriously, but they succeed at providing comic relief. A good example is the chase sequence in which Tasker, on a horse, chases one of the villains (on a motorcycle) through a hotel lobby, an elevator, and the hotel roof.

Cameron is a talented Canadian film director, screenwriter, producer, visual artist, and editor. Examples of his works include "The Terminator," "Titanic," and "Avatar." Cameron, who is also a deep-sea explorer, has received six Academy Awards. He won three Academy Awards for "Titanic." Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder, is an actor, investor, politician, and businessman. His films include "The Terminator," Predator," "Eraser," and "End of Days." Curtis is an American actress and author whose movies include "The Fog," "Prom Night," and "Terror Train." Arnold is an American comedian and actor who has appeared in several films, including "Undercover Blues" and "Hit and Run."

"True Lies" can be viewed as a cheeky take on action hero films. Cameron's inventiveness and the film's tricks and thrills make it difficult to resist. It is worth watching for its great visual appeal, as well as the comedy, action, or storyline.

Rating: 4 out of 5