Wednesday, September 7, 2011

True Lies (1994)

Seen: On netflix instant on my tv.

It's no secret I'm a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and for the longest time True Lies is the main one I felt was missing in my viewing, especially since I really dig most of James Cameron's films. Schwarzenegger stars as Harry Tasker, a globetrotting government agent whose wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter (Eliza Dushku) think he's just a boring salesman. When Harry suspects his wife is cheating on him, he uses all of his resources to spy on her, but soon she becomes caught up accidentally in a terrorist plot that he's been fighting against.

With several exciting chase sequences, multiple explosions, and Mr Schwarzenegger doing his thing, True Lies offers plenty of thrills and some hearty laughs. I loved the shopping mall horseback chase, the bridge-is-about-to-explode nail-biter, the one-man killing spree when they're escaping, and lots of little things in between. Tom Arnold is silly as Harry's side-kick, Bill Paxton is even sillier as a sleazy con artist trying to seduce Helen.

Jamie Lee Curtis is of course great, as usual, but her character's storyline is probably the most problematic. The idea of Harry spying on Helen with his government resources is stupid and takes away from the more exciting (and life-threatening) terrorist plot. This movie draaaags in the middle while this subplot is explored. I liked her character and I had no problem involving her in Harry's secret spy life, but Cameron needed to find a better (and more to-the-point) way to arrange it. I haven't seen the original French film this is based on so maybe the original idea lies there, but he certainly could have made some changes. Also I love how they try to make Curtis dowdy by giving her a shitty haircut and glasses. Really, guys? Is that all you've got?

Also yes terrorists are sort of racistly portrayed; though I took it as "these guys are extremists and not at all meant to be regular Arab Muslims", I can see why various groups were boycotting it at the time of its release.

Basically, True Lies has all the makings of an awesome spy thriller, but it takes too long to get its story together and its pacing suffers for it. Still a really fun movie, but not as re-watchable as some of Schwarzenegger's and Cameron's other efforts.


Pair This Movie With: Hmm not sure. I feel like I've seen the "significant other/parent is leading a secret life as a vigilante/spy" premise before but I'm blanking on specific recommendations. You guys got any ideas?

Edit: Muffin suggested The Long Kiss Goodnight, which I haven't seen yet, but sounds like a good option.


  1. The Long Kiss Goodnight?

  2. I agree that Helen's story arc kinda borders on the sitcom-ish, though the scene where Harry interrogates her behind the one-way mirror is a very good one, especially for JLC.

  3. This movie deserves a perfect score for Bill Paxton's 'stache alone. The rest of the film is just icing on the cake

  4. i forgot that Cameron just had to use Paxton in this too. ouch.

    i cant get leah to watch this one. she has bad memories of it and wont give it another go despite our recent arnie marathons.

  5. True Lies is so much fun. It is such a shame and even more annoying that James Cameron takes years between making movies. It was over a decade between Titanic and Avatar!

  6. What? Long Kiss Goodnight is decent pairing, but the better match seems to be Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which I don't really care for but stole this setup pretty effectively. Of course, Killers (with Kutcher and Heigl) is probably the most literal match, but it's also probably a piece of shit.

    I get your points about Helen, but her storyline and inclusion is the entire reason this movie stands out from other 80s/early 90s action flicks.

  7. I think I'll be watching this one over Netflix's as well.