Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

True Lies (1994)

Directed by James Cameron

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton


It’s not very often that the story, characters, actors, dialogue, photography, action, editing, action, and comedy come together. This film approaches action movie perfection.

The action is wonderful. The scenes with the Harriers thundering across the screen were awesome. Much of my enjoyment could have come from the fact the the theatre I saw the movie in has THX digital surround sound, and I have not been exposed to that very much. Even after seeing the film a second time, I was overwhelmed. Thinking someone was kicking the seat throughout the movie, I realized it was the pounding of my heart with every amazing action scene. I had to pee more during this movie than any other movie, but I couldn’t leave my seat.

Some movies portray action that is far-fetched, unrealistic, and hollow. However, if the action is motivated and shot properly, seemingly impossible antics can be portrayed with such realism that the unrealistic seems realistic. Speed is a movie that failed to make the unrealistic action realistic because there was no plot base to support such unbelievable action. The characters seemed as if it was just another day at the office. True Lies, however, succeeded in making the Harrier-flying, dog-chasing, helicopter-hanging action very real because of its firmly established plot base and realistic character expression.

The beginning of the film is amazingly like the beginning of Goldfinger. In fact, the whole movie is in the spirit of the old James Bond films. Cameron’s a master of keeping the action moving when we expect the credits to roll, for putting that “second wind” into his films. At the precise moment that it seems that everything is resolved (the nuke in the Keys), we get rewarded with more.

Schwarzenegger, Curtis, and Paxton are all excellent. I even think that Curtis should have been up for an Academy Award. Schwarzenegger is dramatically funny (well, most of the time) and pulls off a few one-liners that he is famous for. And some of the moves he does are damn cool. James Cameron once again proved how he and Schwarzenegger are such a good team. The comedy is subtle and perfect.

There were two things I disliked:

a) Dana calling the terrorist a “wacko” and watching that set him off.
b) The terrorist smacking his balls on the tail of the plane. Come on, that’s cheap humor, Cameron. You know better than that.

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