Director: James Cameron | 144 minutes | action, comedy, romance, adventure, thriller | Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Art Malik, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Marshall Manesh, James Allen
In the early 1990s, the celluloid bucket spilled over from the parodies to 007 films, and not all of them were of equal quality. However, the Bond parodists of ‘True Lies’ deliver a piece of craftsmanship, entertaining and exciting from start to finish. The film can compete with the better 007s and gets another pencil for stepping up the marital problems of secret agent Harry – a running gag in the film.
What ‘True Lies’ has in common with the Bond films? A perfect balance between humor and action, a good structure with a spectacular ending, not to mention the actors. Tia Carrere (busty Asian) would not look out of place as Bondgirl and Art Malik would have fit perfectly as a bad guy in, for example, ‘Octopussy’ (1983).
But let’s not take the parallels too far. True Lies largely depends on Schwarzenegger and his self-mockery in particular. The highlight is the ride in the Corvette with his love rival in the film, Bill Paxton (car salesman Simon). Here Harry sovereignly undergoes the fisherman’s Latin of the conqueror, and then puts him in his place. The action is also there, with hilarious shooting and chase scenes, which are sometimes stale (again that horse in the elevator), but then original (Arnie in his Harrier jet). Tom Arnold is a pleasant sidekick and Jamie Lee Curtis knows how to conjure up both a tutje and a vamp in her own way. It’s not as overwhelming as in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ (1988), but name an actress who could have filled her role better.
The plot is simple: an Arab crook (Malik) wants to teach the evil empire America a lesson, but the sacrificial spirit of Arnie and co. is obviously bigger. Every viewer knows this and the wait is for the moment when the time clock starts running on that inevitable atomic bomb. Director James Cameron cleverly enough subtly pushes this storyline into the background, which creates room for the antics of the Tasker family, who can of course rummikub again at the end. But not before both wife Helen and daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku) have been dangerously close to death.
The two storylines are perfectly intertwined, although the film could have done with some cutting and the Bond jokes are not always authentic. Those looking for entertainment, however, will have a good and very full evening with ‘True Lies’.