Last Action Hero
Dir: John McTiernan
Star: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, Charles Dance
Cert / Year: 15 - PG13 / 1993
Format: Video

A young boy, Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien), obsessed with action films is given a chance to preview the new Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) movie. When he gets there his friend the old projectionist (Art Carney) gives him a magic ticket said to have belonged to Houdini. The ticket does turn out to be magic. It has the ability to transport people to and from the film, a fact soon discovered by Danny as he is thrown into the film. He teams up with his hero Jack to chase down the evil hit man Benedict (Charles Dance). The only problem is that Benedict soon finds out about the magic ticket, he steals it and uses it to travel to the real word. Here he finds thing a lot easier than in films and Jack Slater realises that in real life he is not invincible.

A big budget massively hyped film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger fresh from his Terminator 2 success, and director of Die Hard John McTiernan just couldn't fail could it? Oh dear, yes indeed it can. This film had everything thrown at it during its release, masses of advertising, a hit record for AC DC on the soundtrack, it even had a giant inflatable Arnie. Unfortunately all of this could not hide one of the most misjudged and badly targeted movies ever made.

The problem starts with the story, which is what only can be described as maniacally schizophrenic (in fact it is so ill that you would lock it away for life). It is either an action film that you can't believe in, or a not particularly funny family friendly comedy. The action is fine, but as you find out, it is played out in a spoof like manner, thus ruining any impact it may have had. This is the main fault as by using Arnie to spoof action films you immediately alienate the very people who watch his movies (especially at the time, before most of those awfully lame comedies). It's like shouting to everyone in the cinema that they are stupid for watching the sort of film they enjoy best.

You may have been able to forgive this if the spoof had been funny, it isn't. The joke (singular) consists of action movies are larger than life, and you can do things in films that couldn't happen in real life. Ha, ha, yes we already know this, it is the process of suspension of disbelief, leading to escapism for those watching the movie. Funny no, obvious yes.

Ok so what about the actors who are forced to perform in this lame concept for a film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is great when blowing stuff up, and lousy when attempting to act (I've said that before). Here he suffers from the concept, as the plot means that the blowing stuff up is the part that is not taken seriously. It gets worse though, the idea of teaming Arnie up with an annoying brat is just terrible. Child actors are either very good (Christina Ricci, Haley Joel Osment), or as displayed here in Austin O'Brien totally abysmal.

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As you can tell from the previous rant Austin suffers from Anakin Syndrome, which is a real problem as he is a main character. The character of Jack's daughter played by Bridgette Wilson provides another intentionally pointless sidekick, and as such I can't figure out why she is in the film at all. Of the bad guys Charles Dance really does try, and in doing so provides the best performance in the film. F Murry Abrahm is saddled with the worst lines in movie history and looks embarrassed to be here. Additionally we have cameos form just about the rest of Hollywood. Some are good (Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick) others are pointless (Tina Turner).

Plus points, well the direction of the action sequences is top notch, and these set pieces look as big as the budget. There is a good rock soundtrack, and playing spot the celebrity can be fun. Charles Dance provides a good bad guy, with the false eye being a nice touch. However this must weighed up against the faults, which have already been covered.

In conclusion this is a film that should never have been made. Upon release it quickly turned into a giant turkey at the box office, and quite rightly so. If you want to see action and comedy combined in a way that works watch True Lies, otherwise this is a movie for Arnie fanatics only (and even then they may be disappointed).

Narrowly avoiding the bomb.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home