LIGHTS! CAMERON! ACTION!

Schwarzenegger and Curtis are both likable performers--both, basically, are gifted as comics--and they do strong work here, especially considering that they're both physically wrong for their roles. To complete its conception, True Lies called for stars who were attractive but also believable as twerpy suburbanites--maybe Charles Grodin and Bonnie Bedelia, but not Thor the Thunder God and Diana the Huntress.

I don't mean to be too hard on True Lies (not that I or any other critic could hurt the film commercially if we tried). I enjoyed it. It's solid, bang-for-your-buck summer entertainment, like a fireworks show (it is a fireworks show, come to think of it). But it's significantly watered down from the film it could have been by the cash register in Cameron's soul that dictated what kind of movie it had to be, and how gargantuan it had to be. The film does share something with Speed: a flaw. As with Speed's final subway sequence, Cameron pushes his luck, trying to give us one more big run for our money after that nuclear explosion--a confrontation between Arnie and the terrorist (on the fuselage of a Harrier jet in midflight!). It's simply a climax too many. The mushroom cloud has tapped the movie's (and our) energies. True Lies is about as phallic a movie as one could name, so I don't think it's an inapt metaphor to say that by this final midair grapple, it's lost its erection.

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