Arnold Schwarzenegger & James Cameron – Part 3 of 3: True Lies (1994)
Harry Tasker is a crack secret agent working for the elite Omega Sector. He and his partner Albert “Gib” Gibson are working to bring down a terrorist cell known as “Crimson Jihad”. Tasker is the best operative they have. An expert in weapons, martial arts – and fluent in several languages.
His wife Helen and daughter Dana don’t know any of this though. They think he’s a boring computer salesman.
Helen is bored. She wants some excitement in her life. She’s been seeing a sleazy used car salesman called Simon who’s pretending HE’S a secret agent. She’s strongly considering having an affair with him.
Harry finds out about this and uses his connections to win back his wife by setting up a little fake scenario to give Helen the excitement she so desperately craves.
But when Crimson Jihad catches up with him and threatens to detonate a nuclear warhead on U.S soil – Harry’s two separate lives are about to collide. Not only is he going to have to save the world from all out destruction – he’s going to have to explain himself to his wife.
Written and directed by James Cameron – this is a loose remake of La Totale! and a project bought to him by Schwarzenegger. It was the first film to be made under the banner of Cameron’s production company Lightstorm Entertainment and the first project for Digital Domain, a visual effects company which Cameron co founded.
They say a good film director should be able to make a good film in any genre – and here Cameron reveals a flair for comedy. Surprising given how dark and serious all his previous films had been up until this point.
He still manages to deliver cracking action scenes and work in his directorial trademarks. Namely the threat of nuclear destruction and strong female characters. Also the stop and start of two separate narratives which eventually combine in the film’s third act.
Brad Fiedel shows some versatility too in delivering a rousing orchestral score to go with all the onscreen action.
Tom Arnold is great fun as Tasker’s wisecracking partner Gib – and Jamie Lee Curtis does well as his wife Helen. There’s also an early appearance from future Buffy star Eliza Dushku.
Art Malik is a hoot as the unintentionally funny baddie Aziz – and Bill Paxton almost steals the whole film as the weaselly Simon. A character who is as full of shit as Harry is but in a totally different way. Charlton Heston also gets a fun cameo as Tasker’s boss.
The real star of course though is Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is an unidentifiable magic in his collaborations with Cameron. He’s the one director who really brings out the best in the Austrian Oak.
Harry Tasker is a fun character. You know why? Because he is a total and utter weapons grade ASSHOLE. Seriously – he’s the biggest jerk in the whole film. Lying to his wife about his job, tricking her into thinking she’s doing a secret mission, scaring Simon so much he pisses his pants – and abusing government funding and resources to do so. He also blackmails poor Gib (a guy who’s supposed to be his best friend) to help him do ALL of this.
Harry Tasker is a grade A monumental PRICK.
You’d hate him if he wasn’t so damn FUNNY.
BOY is he funny. Two laugh out loud scenes are his devastatingly sarcastic responses when asked to identify a nuclear warhead and his truth serum induced conversation with Helen. He sure is a piece of work – but you can’t help but love him.
The laughs really come as thick and fast as the action scenes. Blistering onscreen mayhem which when it gets going just does not let up. Gun fights, knife fights, fist fights, bike chases, HORSE chases and a sequence with a Harrier Jump Jet that just has to be seen to be believed – this movie is James Cameron firing on all cylinders and it’s glorious to behold.
World events since this movie was released have made parts of it a lot less funny than they were – and have bollocksed any chances of a sequel. A damn shame.
Great entertainment from start to finish.
The Man Who Saved Movies. You’re fired.