Wednesday, December 31, 2014

True Lies

Movie Name: True Lies
Year of Release: 1994
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Art Malik, Tia Carrere, Eliza Dushku, Bill Paxton, Grant Heslov, Charlton Heston, Marshall Manesh, James Allen
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

"True Lies" was one of 1994's big successes, and followed James Cameron's equally successful "Terminator 2: Judgement Day". The film is a remake of a french film ("La Totale"), which James Cameron adapted and made into his own universe. The film follows the life of Harry Tasker, who leads a double life: his full time job as an undercover and highly skilled spy takes him everywhere and places him in difficult and dangerous situations, while his family life on the other hand, is quiet and sedate (his wife thinks he works with computers). Longing for a more exciting life, Helen lets herself be dazzled by a car salesman, himself impersonating a spy, something that Harry discovers and drives him into a jealous rage. Harry decides to put his wife through a test to verify her fidelity, and unexpectedly she is drawn to one of his dangerous missions, when terrorists target him specifically. 
James Cameron has been a director (and also writer) whose films are anchored by challenging scenarios, where the average hero finds the inner strength to overcome obstacles that are at times towering and impossible to surpass. That's what makes his characters easy to associate with - those are the cases for Ellen Ripley in "Aliens", Sarah Connor in "Terminator" or even Jake Sully in "Avatar". "True Lies" uses the premise of a spy film (almost like a James Bond), and layers it with the right dosage of comedy, without ever making it look forced or like a caricature of the genre. This comical component is strongly emphasized with the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, who manages to elevate the material and make the transition of the meek Helen, to the sexy and vixen Helen believable and enticing. The action set pieces are fantastically well staged, as is traditional with James Cameron, who knows how to produce visually arresting action and suspenseful scenes like few directors currently working (his work never feels shallow or overly digitally modified, as does for instance the work of Michael Bay). The cast is strong, with Arnold Schwarzenegger using his limited range to go along for the ride, with the most humorous sections going to Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold (the latter as the sarcastic sidekick). A very entertaining film always worth revisiting.