Sunday, July 19, 2020

Last Action Hero

Movie Name: Last Action Hero
Year of Release: 1993
Director: John McTiernan
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Dance, Austin O'Brien, Mercedes Ruehl, Anthony Quinn, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Frank McRae, Tom Noonan, Robert Prosky, Bridgette Wilson, Joan Plowright, Ian McKellen, Noah Emmerich, Tina Turner, Michael Chieffo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7 

Synopsis and Review:
John McTiernan had a great run of films during the 80s all the way up to the early 90s. He started the 90s with "The Hunt for the Red October" which was very well received, followed by the smaller in scale "Medicine Man". "Last Action Hero" which was supposed to be Arnold Schwarzenegger's big follow up to James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", was plagued by production issues and a tight release schedule. The film follows the story of young Danny, a movie buff, who goes to high school and lives with his single mom in a tiny apartment in NY. Danny is a huge fan of the character Jack Slater, who has a franchise of action films on the big screen. He is invited to a special screening, thanks to a projectionist friend of his, of Slater's new and upcoming adventure. Nick, the projectionist, gives him a magic ticket, which turns out to be more than just wishful magic. The power behind the ticket itself, propels Danny into the screen where be becomes part of the film itself, involved in the adventures with Jack Slater, as he battles screen villains, and lives in a version of Los Angeles, peppered with characters from other feature films. However, as much as Danny is enjoying his experience on film, some darker forces are very curious about his magical ticket, and how it can allow for travels between different realities.
"Last Action Hero" upon its release was met with harsh reviews, and the film was John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarzenegger's first big flop (the pair had worked together on "Predator"). Unjustifiably so, the film is actually a big romp, mixing just enough action, comedy and self awareness, to demonstrate the originality of the script, some of the trademarks from Shane Black himself (particularly the comedy bits mixed with the big action set pieces), who is one of the credited writers. It's a film that defies conventions, and yet revels in them, being the more smart for it. The characters deconstruct the action film tropes, while being in the middle of them, inviting the audience to laugh with them at the silliness of it all. It's also a film that basks in the pleasure of being part of the tinseltown mythology, bringing characters from other films, and treating it all as a big village where everyone lives in this fictional world, where Sharon Stone's Catherine Trammel (from Paul Verhoeven's "Basic Instinct"), co-exists with Robert Patrick's T-1000 (from the aforementioned "Terminator 2"). The cast is uniformly committed and game, including Schwarzenegger, Charles Dance, Mercedes Ruehl, with great cameos from Ian McKellen and Joan Plowright. The cinematography from the great Dean Semler is fantastic, as is the score from the late Michael Kamen. An entertaining film worth watching.