Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
Director: James Cameron
Running Time: 141 mins
True Lies is an American film about a secret agent whose world is turned upside down when he discovers his wife is having an affair, in the midst of an operation to bring down a terrorist syndicate importing nuclear weapons into the USA.
Fun-filled action to the extreme, True Lies may not be the brainiest film ever made, but if you’re looking for pure, all-out blockbuster entertainment, there’s nothing better. With Arnold Schwarzenegger in gleefully boisterous form, director James Cameron throwing an enormous budget around, and epic, fun-loving sentiment throughout, True Lies is gloriously ridiculous fun.
Now, the action genre isn’t just limited to big-budget thrills and spills, and both Cameron and Schwarzenegger have proven before (particularly with the Terminator movies) that action can be made a whole lot better with great storytelling.
True Lies, however, is far from a great piece of storytelling. Generic, preposterous and predictable throughout, it’s not the sort of film to get you on the edge of your seat. However, the film has such a brilliant self-awareness that it makes no difference – it may not be a work of genius, but when things are all about blowing stuff up, what does it matter?
With enormous action set-pieces throughout that feature delightfully massive explosions and insane stunts, as well as some quite stunning visual effects for 1994, there’s no getting away from True Lies’ mad joy at taking the action genre to the extreme.
And what makes it even better is a great sense of humour throughout that pokes fun at the film’s own sheer idiocy, with fun nods and winks from cheesy one-liners to an espionage plot that feels like a parody of itself proving a delight right the way through.
All in all, True Lies is a gloriously silly blockbuster, but it does at least step away from pure ridiculousness occasionally, with the film’s secondary plot – Schwarzenegger’s discovery of his wife’s affair – proving the most engaging part of all, bringing some fun intrigue and even the slightest bit of emotional depth (at least relatively speaking).
As far as its action/espionage plot goes, the predictability of it all can get a little tiresome, particularly as it drags on in an overlong final act. The crazy action absolutely stands out above its narrative weaknesses, but being fully honest, the film isn’t a non-stop laughter fest, and it can get a little dull at times.
Overall, though, it’s hard not to love True Lies. Gloriously ridiculous in every way, it’s a delightful action epic of the past that you’re unlikely to see again. With massive action and crazy stunts, and a hilariously silly and self-aware sense of humour, it’s huge fun to watch, even if it’s definitely a showing of more brawn than brains, which is why I’m giving it a 7.5.