True Lies

A brilliant but equally hilarious action thriller

What it’s about

The life of a fearless globetrotting secret agent, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes a shocking turn when he suspects his wife of having an extramarital affair with a used-car salesman who is posing as a secret agent. He must now not only save the world but also save his own marriage.

My thoughts

This has everything you want from an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick, so full of one-liners, a good amount of comedy, and much ass kicking. But it is not a conventional action flick, it is in fact an action film combined with a domestic comedy, two genres that not many people would ever think of combining.

But this is James Cameron, a man who is indisputably the king of making great films. And this is a great film, and perhaps what makes this film one of Arnie’s best non-terminator outings is the relationship between Schwarzenegger himself and his on-screen wife, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Basically Helen Tasker, wife of Harry Tasker, has no idea that Harry is a secret agent and in fact believes him to be an extremely boring computer salesman. Their marriage is dull, so dull that when a snake car salesman pretends to be a secret agent in an effort to lull her into bed, she falls for it.

Arnie’s Harry Tasker though, gets wind of this cue hilarity. Anyhow while hilariously trying to save his marriage he loses sight of his main mission which is of stopping a terrorist from using four nuclear warheads which have been smuggled into the US.

This leads to both he and his wife being kidnapped by the terrorists. Much kick ass’ery then ensues, along with much hilarity, perhaps two of the funniest moments coming firstly when Jamie Lee Curtis’ Helen Tasker drops a machine gun and it falls down a flight of stairs, in the process taking out all the terrorists, and then secondly later on in the film when the terrorists find themselves in a precarious position in a van which hangs over the edge of the bridge. They think that they are safe and that they are not going to fall over the edge, but then a bird lands on the bonnet. Guess what happens next, goodbye terrorists.

The best one-liner and the one to watch out for in this film inevitably comes at the end, it is not one of his best but is still highly effective. (Spoiler alert) While flying a fighter jet, the terrorist gets hung up on one of the rockets, before releasing the rocket and sending the terrorist to his doom, Arnie says, “you’re fired”, and he says it in that way that only Arnie can.

All in all this is a highly entertaining watch, and without a doubt one of Arnie’s best in the more slapstick style action hero genre. For that reason, along with the fact that it’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger film (I’m a big fan), from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron

Genre: action, comedy, thriller

Year: 1994

​Runtime: 141 minutes

Jingle All the Way

Sometimes Wooden but Never Not Funny

What it’s about

Howard, a haggard salesman, promises his son a Turbo Man toy for Christmas. He is forced to fight every parent and travel all over town to get the toy after he forgets to buy it.

My thoughts

Basically if you like Arnold Schwarzenegger, like comedies and like Christmas films then in all probability you like this film. But if you are not a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, are not big on comedies and are not big on Christmas films, then you will likely find this film a bit rubbish.

And it really is as simple as that. Actor/comedian Sinbad plays Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nemesis, and puts in an excellent performance helping to make this film a non-stop bundle of laughs. But as the narrative progresses it becomes clear that the main nemesis is the titular character’s neglect of his son.

And it is the resolution to this neglect that gives this film its feelgood factor, and is what makes this film truly worth watching. That is to say this film is more than just an endless bundle of laughs, it has substance.

Not much, but as much as can be expected from what is a typical non-terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger film. All in all, that added to the fact it is a gloriously fun watch makes it a worthy addition to any Christmas viewing list, meaning from me it’s a thumbs up.​

​Director: Brian Levant

Writer: Randy Kornfield

Genre: comedy, action, family

Year: 1996

​Runtime: 95 minutes