True Lies: An Action Comedy
This 1994 action/comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger had a $115 million budget. Its cumulative worldwide gross was almost $379 million.[i] In “True Lies” he starred opposite Jamie Lee Curtis and had Tom Arnold in a strong supporting role.
In some quarters it was billed as a show with good family values. Others found that assessment odd because of the violence and strong language. The movie received an “R” rating in the United States and a “15” rating in the United Kingdom. The people who got killed were “all bad”.
[i] United States Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111503/reference, last accessed 9/22/19.
Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is on a secret mission in Geneva. He infiltrates an estate in classical spy fashion. He swims underwater onto the grounds. He has a tuxedo underneath his wetsuit so he can join the black-tie affair inside the mansion. Albert “Gib” Gibson (Tom Arnold) and Faisil (Grant Heslov) are in a nearby van giving Harry technical support. There is computer hacking and some clever moves with the mansion’s staff. Harry meets Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere) and they flirt then dance a tango. The guards find evidence of intrusion and Harry has to shoot his way out.
The team returns to Washington, DC. Gib drops Harry off at Harry’s home. Albert gives him a couple of trinkets for Harry to give to his spouse, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), and daughter, Dana (Eliza Dushku). Helen is sleeping.
All is not well in the Tasker household. Helen finds Harry boring. Dana steals from Gib on the way out the door. She hops on her boyfriend’s motorcycle and rides off to school. A spy gadget Albert gave to Harry recorded the theft. Dana’s behavior shocks Harry. Albert, divorced with no children, schools Harry about modern realities. Albert speculates Dana may have stolen the money to buy drugs or get an abortion.
At the headquarters of the secret spy organization, Omega Sector. A no-nonsense Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) heads Omega Sector. At a meeting it’s revealed Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) is the head of a terrorist group, Crimson Jihad. Juno Skinner is connected to the Crimson Jihad.
That night Harry and Gib get into a shootout in Washington, DC. Harry kills many terrorists but Aziz gets away thanks to a police horse that balks at jumping from one high rise hotel to another. This shootout and chase causes Harry to miss a birthday.
Helen is carrying out some of her own covert activity. Harry goes to Helen’s workplace to have a surprise lunch with her. He overhears a phone conversation with someone she is going to meet for lunch. A stunned Harry walks out of the building, oblivious to anything. He tells Gib Helen is having an affair. Gib has a “welcome to the club” reaction.
Harry decides to use his position to put Helen under surveillance. The other man is Simon (Bill Paxton), an automotive sales representative. Yes, a used car salesman. Helen thinks Simon is the kind of superspy that Harry is. Simon takes credit for Harry’s action the previous night. Gib loves Simon’s routine. Harry goes to Simon’s used car lot. Harry gets Simon to explain how he picks up women. He finds women who are living boring lives and gives them the promise of doing something exciting.
Simon convinces Helen to go on an assignment with him to Paris. Simon making his move when a commando raid, ordered by Harry, captures Simon and Helen. Harry and Gib throw a scare into Simon. Harry anonymously interrogates Helen. Harry establishes she didn’t have an affair with Simon. He makes Helen think she has to work for a spy agency.
Harry sends Helen on an “assignment”. Terrorists capture them. The terrorists whisk the Taskers to an island in the Florida Keys. Crimson Jihad has some nuclear warheads Juno smuggled out of a former Soviet Republic. Juno is in it strictly for the money. All seems lost then Harry springs into action.
True Lies is one of those movies that requires almost complete suspension of reality. One part of the movie taken from reality is Gib talking about his ex-wife taking the ice cube trays.[i]
The receptionist is the complete opposite of Miss. Moneypenny.
Helen’s co-worker with one line, that Harry hears, puts gasoline on the fire.
Helen makes a quick transformation from looking pretty to looking pretty trashy.
Under a truth drug Harry is humorously honest to Helen and the interrogator (Charles Cragin).
Helen racked up a respectable number of kills most of them in a comedic manner.
For Marine Corps aviation and Harrier fans two USMC Harriers have a big supporting role in the demise of Crimson Jihad. In the movie 7.62mm gunfire shatters a Harrier’s canopy. This wouldn’t happen in real life. The filmmakers had this happen to avoid an unwanted reflection on the canopy glass.[ii]
The fight between Helen and Juno is done from the seated position.
A kiss with a nuclear mushroom cloud in the background.
Harry Tasker couldn’t resist the chance to dance a tango. There are two tango dances in the movie. Danced to “Por Una Cabeza”.
Juno’s end is like a Rube Goldberg.[iii]
Simon apparently changes jobs but not his method of operation.
[i] United States Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111503/trivia, last accessed 9/27/19.
[ii] United States Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111503/goofs, last accessed 9/27/19.
[iii] Cartoonist Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg was a cartoonist famous for cartoons depicting complicated machines performing simple tasks.
Other movies that killed off an evil woman Rube Goldberg style
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Children's Afair
Rush Hour 3
Young Sherlock Holmes
From Dusk Till Dawn
From Helen’s perspective at the start of the movie, Harry is a hard-working man. She and Harry had good jobs. Harry was good at his job. The times he missed family events was because his work required it. Still Helen is annoyed. Helen is bored yet makes no apparent attempt to suggest they try to add some excitement to their life.
Helen, a mature and intelligent woman, believes Simon’s story despite it being incredible. Granted Simon planted his suitcase that gave his story some credibility. It does seem a good move for Simon to leave the suitcase as bait and see if his prospect takes it.
Harry is upset Helen is cheating on him so he misuses government assets. Has her taken prisoner. After Helen convinces Harry she didn’t intend to cheat on her marriage, he lets her think she can get arrested, and charged with treason, at any time if she fails to carry out the instructions of an anonymous government agency. Somehow Harry doesn’t seem like a good husband or someone anyone should be anywhere near.
You're fired— Harry Tasker - After firing the missile a terrorist is hanging from
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Robert Sacchi