The Austin Chronicle

True Lies

Rated R, 141 min. Directed by James Cameron. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Art Malik, Charlton Heston.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 22, 1994

James Cameron only makes big movies, and, at a rumored $110 million-plus, this is one of the biggest: a gargantuan Hollywood juggernaut so crammed full of bullets, bombs, and bloodshed, your head soon feels like Italy and Brazil used it for a post-World Cup grudge match. The catch is, once you get past the stunning special effects and the mind-numbing stuntwork, there's not all that much there. Schwarzenegger re-teams with Cameron as Harry Trasker, a U.S. uber-spook working for “the last line of defense,” the shadowy Omega Sector. With the assistance of right-hand-man Gib (Tom Arnold, laying to rest once and for all the notion that he was riding Roseanne's bountiful coattails these past few years), Harry scurries around the globe, procuring classified documents and blowing things up. On the flip side, Harry's bored wife Helen (Curtis) thinks her husband is little more than a hunky computer sales rep: he works odd hours from time to time, sure, but on the whole, he's a model of middle-class normalcy. When Harry is sent to disrupt a group of Middle-Eastern terrorists, the Crimson Jihad, he finds his wife (whom he has been suspecting of infidelity, but that's a subplot we won't get into) and teenage daughter caught up in the fiery proceedings, and, whoops, his secret is out. Cameron seems to be trying to inject this behemoth with a sizable vein of light romantic comedy (a dicey gambit in the best of hands), but it doesn't always work. Arnold is excellent as Harry's wisecracking aide-de-camp, and Schwarzenegger gets off a few worthy trademark quips of his own, but the effort leaves the film oddly hollow. And while some of the stunts are truly breathtaking, there's little of the nerve-wracking, nail-biting suspense of either Cameron's Terminator 2 or his vastly underrated aquatic/sci fi/love story The Abyss. True Lies is immensely superior to last summer's stillborn Last Action Hero, but it can't quite measure up to the director's previous work, and that's one heck of a letdown.

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