on June 21, 2004
True Lies is an action romp with several story lines that flow into each other for the big climax. Harry (Arnold) and Helen (Jamie Lee) are in a stereotypical middle-class marriage where the husband is totally career focused and because he is "successful" he thinks all is well at home. Helen is bored and miserable because she feels invisible to her husband. Their daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku - Faith from Buffy) is alienated from them both and headed down a very bad path.
Harry has a secret life as a spy for a super secret government organization. His partner is Albert (Tom Arnold in his best role / performance anywhere) and they are closer to each other than to anyone else in their lives as they travel the world saving us all from the bad guys.
The terrorism they are battling could have been ripped from today's headlines. However, I doubt such a film could be made today because of political sensitivities. I was surprised how much of it held up.
But this film is about fun more than drama. The action is exciting, but preposterous and the scale of the action crescendos toward the final ridiculous aspect of Harry flying a Harrier jet while saving his daughter, fighting the big bad guy and fending off an attacking helicopter all at the same time. Another problem, a small one for this kind of action film, is the endless weapons fire focused at the heroes to no effect, while Helen can simply drop a machine pistol down the stairs and wipe out a platoon. It is a delightful seen, however. If you can suspend disbelief for this, the movie can be a lot of fun.
Many have called the film misogynistic, and I suppose you can see some of that in the film. But Bill Paxton's wonderful performance as the sleazebag Simon is easily the most despised person in the film and he is a male.
There are other find performances in the film. Faisal, played wonderfully by Grant Heslov (we should see more of him), is a terrific character who holds a lot of the story line together even though his role isn't that large. And Tia Carrere as the mercenary art dealer Juno is simply one of the best things in the movie. Art Malik is great as the villain Salim Abu Aziz. Mr. Malik provides the right kind of energy for such an over the top film. He provides the kind of passionate megalomania that makes all the fighting seem appropriate.
With all the sub-plots weaving in and out, the humor, and the fine performances, I think this is one of Arnold Schwartzenegger's best films. And I thought his pairing with Tom Arnold was great. Too bad we never saw them together again.
on November 5, 2001
True Lies is a fun action packed film. There's no question about that. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a spy whose been lying to his wife for the last 15 years saying he was a computer salesmen. The Mrs. finally does find out. Schwarzenegger starts to kick some serious [rear-end] as he gets involved with arms smuggling. Jamie Lee Curtis, as the wife, is entertaining. She seems to be having a lot of fun with this role. Tom Arnold(who I don't mention out loud that I really like)brings some nice comedic relief as Arnold's partner. The great Eliza Dushku is on hand as Ah-nold's and Jamie's daughter. Charlton Heston has a very small role as Schwarzenegger's boss. The comedy bits are pretty funny, and the action is high octane adrenaline. The end scene with the harrier jet is spectacular. Director James Cameron can always be counted on for big, over the top blockbusters. This is no exception. This
movie was easily Schwarzenegger's last great movie. You also get the added bonus of a semi-nude Jamie Lee, looking incredible, doing a dirty dance for her hubby. This is not Casablanca people. It's just a simple, fun adventure. Nice time waster. Have fun and enjoy it. You will.
on September 2, 2003
I fail to see the logic in creating a DVD like this. While it is in widescreen format, it is in standard 4:3 (1.33:1) rather than anamorphic (sized for 16:9 widescreen TVs).
This was one of my favorite movies. The quality of the image on this DVD is passable. I hope they release it in anamorphic format sometime in the near future for people that own more-current television sets so we can fully enjoy the technology we spent our hard-earned dollars on.
I was very pleased with the audio. While it wasn't up to Superbit standards, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.
on February 10, 2014
Went to amazon looking for comments about the poor DVD transfer of True Lies, which it really is. Got intrigued by the one star reviews of sexism and racism (some on-line too) and tried to figure out why I like this movie.
First of all, it is so clearly an unreal spoof. I can't understand the vituperative comments about sexism and racism except from the POV of people who think movies have way more influence than they ought to, although I do acknowledge, with some people they do. This movie is so clearly not reality, and Cameron has gone out of his way to make that rather obvious in so many deliberately ridiculous silly scenes, so to criticize it like it has an influence over our values and morality and behaviour makes it sound like those critics don't have much respect for people and their self-determination and regard most of us as rather weak-minded and not very perceptive. Ok.
Picking apart certain scenes on an isolated micro-level and ignoring the larger context is the fallacy that almost all critics make, from journalism to academia, for the sum of the parts can change the meaning of the whole. When I started to think of this film within its whole context it became even more fascinating.
Jamie Lee Curtis's part, and she herself, as well as Schwarzenegger, have been criticized for being degrading to women. In a larger context though, the film is about her evolution and as a whole charts the emancipation of women. She starts as a June Cleaver caricature, the dutiful, adoring and somewhat blind and ignorant wife to a more worldly dominant man. But she is bored to death with that role and seeks to break out. Initially she does that in the direction of having an affair. Then she realizes that is empty and she seeks a bigger more significant fulfillment. She takes on a mission. As in history, that is still first guided and overly controlled by men. She is locked in the little concrete room. Men put her there. Women in history helped get themselves there and keep themselves there too. By the end of the interrogation there though, she realizes, as have women in history, that she wants to be true to fixing her boredom and her need to care, and also she 'needed to feel alive,' in a world and a marriage where she felt taken for granted and was' and also allowed herself to be for 15 years. But no more. What ensues is a conversation all spouses should have with each other through a relationship, albeit face to face, and too few do: how to continue to be fulfilled and find meaning. Then she more or less smashes her way out of her prison, physically and psychologically.
After that we witness her liberation: the tentative first steps going to the hotel room, stumbling on the way, (and note the previous scenes: the reality of the dirt under her finger nails, the ripping away of all the stupid frills on her dress). In the room she is again tempted to be what the man wants, realizes it's ridiculous and degrading, then the absolute defiance and refusal to be what men define and demand, and to be accepted on her own merit in her own way, learning along the way. Isn't that what we all want and do? The world gets in the way from time to time, but by the end of the film clearly she and her husband embark on missions as equals, and her, apparently, without all the training he must have had, she is just a natural at it. They are now more or less equal, and clearly better more passionate partners (the tango).
The anti-Arab criticism of this film is similar hogwash. Most of it comes from pre-9/11, but even after, the fact is, in the world some Arabs are villains sometimes. If you listen to the BBC news, barely a day goes by where there is not a suicide bombing somewhere in the middle east. Sometimes others are villainous. It is a film. This is a particular film and needed a particular context. Clearly caricatured. Clearly a parody. More about fanaticism. Try and get it. Try and get over yourself.
Sometimes there are universal themes and symbols, sometimes not. So I post this review under the one star section not because it is a one star film, far from it, but that's where it needs to be read. True Lies is humorous, symbolic, perhaps inspiring us to learn something, if we have the eyes to see, and entertaining all along the way. The DVD transfer though is truly a one star thing, so far.
on April 26, 2013
I love this film for its silly fun quotient - especially the Bondesque beginning (in spite of the lousy job they did disguising Arnie's stunt double). I won't repeat what's already been written about the spectacular effects and absurd situations and just plain outsized action scenes. Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold are both funny. In fact I particularly liked how Arnold breezed through this as if it was a walk in the park. If you look closely he makes a lot of little gestures that give the impression he might have been an agent in a former life. Well, probably not! And what can I add about Bill Paxton, one of my favourite "weird" actors. :-) Heck even Arnold is funny. I think this is well-worth watching especially if you get a bunch of your crazy friends together on a Saturday night and make a party of it! This is one of my three favourite Schwarzenegger films, the others being Predator and Terminator 2. Clearly Cameron knows how to get the best out of him. And McTiernan did a pretty good job too.
Disclaimer: I have not seen all of Arnold's films.
That's Arnold's horrified wife Jamie Lee asking the question,just after it is revealed her husband had been leading a double life as a secret agent.True Lies(released July/94)is a wonderful action romp starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,Jamie Lee Curtis,Tom Arnold,Bill Paxton and Tia Carrere.If there ever was a "guys movie" this would certainly classify as one and Jamie Lee's considerable "assets" are shown off to great advantage.
The story involves one Harry Tasker(Schwarzenegger) who is a secret agent for the Omega Sector.The film opens as he and his partner Albert(Arnold)are crashing a dinner party at an expensive palatial estate in Switzerland:Arnold listens in electronically with orders and Harry does the walking.Harry meets up one Juno(Tia Carrere),supposedly an antiquities dealer specializing in Persian artifacts,based in Italy.She is actually a front for a terrorist organization called the Crimson Jihad,who are on a mission to obtain nuclear weapons for use against the U.S.Harry is found out and is chased away by the armed guards and just barely escapes.
Harry revisits Juno in her establishment in Italy to reconnoiter the place.The Jihadists are worried that their cover will be blown and they chase Harry through a local mall,but loose him.In the meantime Harry's bespectacled and plain looking wife Helen(Curtis)is leading a boring life.Harry,her "salesman" husband,spends more time away than with her and their daughter.She is spotted in a restaurant one day by a local car salesman called Simon(Paxton)who is on the make for women just like her looking for a "thrill" in their lives.Coincidentally,to pick up women,he uses a story that he is a secret agent being pursued by unknown enemies and that he needs people like Helen to help him.For awhile it works and Helen is receiving calls and rendezvousing in secret with Simon.One day when Harry drops by Helen's work to take her out for lunch,he happens to over hear her convo with Simon on the phone.He immediately thinks she is having an affair.Distraught he leaves but decides then and there to bug their phone line and tail her.It all comes crashing down on Simon and Helen when they are out at Simon's trailer.Just as Simon is about to put the push on Helen Harry,with the help of his agent cohorts,storm in on them and they haul Helen and Simon off.A cowering Simon admits to his fantasy scheme to pick up women and is let go.Helen however is "recruited" to go undercover as a hooker to plant a bug in the room of one of their targets.It's all a ruse by Harry to goad her on a bit then,now knowing she truly loves him,have a nice intimate evening alone.But things go awry as the terrorists have been following Harry and they capture Harry and his wife and whisk them both to an island in the Florida Keys.
Here the terrorists reveal to the world they have four nuclear warheads that they will detonate if their demands are not met.In fact one is armed and set to go off in an hour and half as a show of determination.With Helen in the loop both she and Harry combine to foil the terrorists and they cause alot of havoc.However in the process they get separated;Helen is taken hostage once more and Harry escapes and is rescued by Albert and friends.They pursue the convoy of Jihadists leaving the island,and two Harrier Marine Jets pound the convoy and take out a section of the causeway,stopping most of them in their tracks.The driver of the car carrying Helen is shot and as the out of control car heads towards the break in the causeway,Harry attempts a daring but successful rescue by helicopter.
On land Harry is informed that some the Jihadists that got away have reached Miami and have his daughter as a hostage.Harry commandeers a jump jet and goes to Miami and to the rescue.His daughter obtains a key that will detonate one the the nuclear devices and is chased out onto a piece of machinery extending far out from the building,a good 200 feet or so up.Harry not only has to contend with the Jihadist leader,but also his compatriots circling in a helicopter all while attempting to rescue his daughter.It all comes to a fitting ending when the leader gets caught up on one of the jets missiles and the helicopter flies into perfect range and alignment.A press of the button by Harry sends the missile and ride into the helicopter taking out two birds with one shot.
The film ends with the couple now BOTH on assignment together.Who should they run into but old Simon,still trying to play the "spy" game with someone new.Helen pulls out a tube of lipstick,pulls it under Simon's chin and vows to waste him on the spot.Simon runs off,cowering with pants wet.Helen and Harry tango the night away.
True Lies doesn't have too many slow spots and moves along at a good pace.The movie has that wonderful twist;at first it's Harry leading a double life that his family are unawares of,but then Harry himself gets a shock as his wife,while not leading a double life,at least strongly fantasizes about having one,and Harry's neglect may be the cause.Just as this about to coalesce BOTH are then drawn into the terrorists plans and all is forced out and Helen's transformation from weak and plain to sexy and strong is as appealing a twist as pay day.It's a device that also gives the movie a greater character depth/appeal than would otherwise be.Each scene plays nicely into the next as the action lurks behind every corner,ready to pop out at any time.
What I want to know is this;there is a scene just after Harry has found out Helen has been "cheating" on him.When he is about to get in the drivers side of the van to leave you can clearly see a woman about a car length ahead of him standing there with a purse looking in the direction of the camera but really no where in particular.Who is she and .....why??
Technically the movie has been transferred well onto DVD in its original a/r of 2:35:1.Extras include only the trailer.
All in all one of Cameron's better efforts with Ahh-nold in one of his better films along with Jamie Lee Curtis looking particularly sexy,and Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton acquitting themselves handsomely.A great action flick for the guys....and ok the gals can watch too! Highly recommended.4 1/2 stars.
A conservatism film staring Carlton Heston as Spencer Trilby. Heston send out his tango loving agents to protect the U.S. from terrorists. Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is one of their best. His family thinks he is an innocuous computer salesman.
Sometime he horses around with the bad guys. At other times he is a little flighty.
Harry has to watch the "Sand Spider" (Art Malik.)
The wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) being a little board finds satisfaction in helping a dubious faux spy Simon (Bill Paxton.)
What would Harry do if he knew the truth about Simon?
How would Helen react if she found out the truth about Harry?
What if the "Sand Spider" found out about Harry's daughter?
Is the world safer?
Tom Arnold is so helpful with his "one liners."
on November 15, 2004
The Amazon write up for this film implies Cameron doesn't like women. But Jamie Lee Curtis does look to be having fun. Yes, us men are going ga-ga for her as she is exploited. But (a) she raked in a heap of money (b) her stunning body has been immortalized in film and (c) how many women can claim to have turned on so many men at the same time with so little effort? (Hint: Curtis may very well be an alpha-female. Maybe and ENTJ.) The action sequences in this film, as in all Cameron films, have a serious true-to-life feel. Arnold may very well be a psychopath as he slaughters deranged terrorist after deranged terrorist utterly without remorse or even blinking an eye. But the way it's done you really get the feeling that the violence is essential to the story and had to be done this way. (Again, unlike Sum of All Fears, which is a major letdown once you know anything about plotting. Why is the leader of The Greatest Nation on Earth not levelheaded? The story's suspense derives entirely from the US President acting like a nincompoop. Which speaks well neither towards Clancy the democrat nor Clancy the patriot.) Which is why Cameron is better than Sam Peckinpah, who filmed Tarkovsky-like action sequences that often seemed out of place.
There's also enough gadgetry in this film to keep the editors of Maxim busy for at least a year. The subbasement of the building Arnold and co-star Tom Arnold work in is a standout true geek heaven. Cameron really delivers the goods.
on May 11, 2004
As an action movie, I really enjoyed True Lies. It has a lot of funny scenes in it that I truly liked. However, I did not feel that way about the way Helen was depicted throughout. She starts out as the hum-drum housewife--completely de-sexualized, and thus completely unfulfilled as a person. It is only when she puts on some lipstick and tears the dress apart that she starts to feel excited about her life--as we can tell by the way she dances. I feel like the movie is furthering stereotypes of boring housewives this way. It's as though the message is to break out of line, get sexy-looking, and only then will you enjoy life. It's clear that Helen comes to define herself by what men (i.e. Harry) see in her, because the last we see of her is the ballroom scene in a gown slit up almost to her hip putting lipstick on again. Yes, Helen becomes comfortable with her sexuality. This can be a good thing, but it is shown as the only avenue towards self-fulfillment.
Other than that, I did enjoy the humor of this movie. So, if you can make yourself aware of the way that femininity is depicted throughout, then I'd say to go ahead and watch it. Otherwise, caveat emptor.
on April 22, 2004
Jamie Lee Curtis continues to be one of our most overlooked and underappreciated actresses. She was brilliant in FREAKY FRIDAY, the penultimate heroine in HALLOWEEN, and a sick mommy in MOTHER'S BOYS. In this bombastic James Cameron action thriller, Curtis plays the wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who has hidden the fact that he is spy from his wife in 17 years of marriage! To her, he's just a boring computer salesman with a stuck up, disinterested daughter (Elisha Dushku in one of her first roles). Jamie, looking for adventure in her life, teams up with a car salesman who pretends he's a secret agent (played with wonderful timing by the dependable Bill Paxton). Meanwhile, Arnie and his partner (well played by Tom Arnold) think Jamie's having an affair with Paxton. This all gets mixed up in the true plot of a demented terrorist (the appropriately evil Art Malik) out to blow up US cities. Tia Carrere is along for the ride in the role of a beautiful but deadly curator. Add Charlton Heston as Arnie's boss, and you have a talented cast. Cameron knows how to do action films; the finale involving the airplanes and the bridge is terrific. This movie is unabashedly entertaining, and even though it's a little too long (almost two and a half hours), Cameron keeps the action interesting. Not bad for a California governor, Arnie!