Thursday, August 20, 2009

Essential Action #1: True Lies

This will be the first of several appearances by Mr.Schwarzenegger and what better way to start then with one of the best blockbusters of all time. True Lies.

Before the days of Transformers, action blockbusters had character and integrity. They were more than just test movies for Blu-Ray players at Best Buy. They featured seasoned actors placed in extraordinary situations with luck on their side. True Lies is a very important action movie and therefore an obvious choice to begin this list.

As you will see with most of the movies on this list, True Lies is an excellent example of a film that follows the Die Hardian Ethos. DHE, for short, refers to the structure of an action movie and it's ability to best follow the themes put forward by Die Hard and the characterizations portrayed by it's protagonist John McClane. Simply put, a hero is introduced that we grow attached to through his/her humour and rebel attitude. Something is taken from this character and the result is a huge amount of death culminating in the stylistic murder of the lead villian. At the same time, there must be no direct involvement of major law enforcement to assist the character and there must also be a comic relief cast to play opposite the hero. In the end, our hero is reunited with that which he lost and he/she gains valuable perspective on whatever conflict was occuring before the action began (i.e. marriage, family, work).

The more a film follows Die Hardian Ethos, the easier it is for the audience to become interested because they feel comfortable and familiar.

So back to True Lies. There's no question whether or not the protagonist is a success because Arnold is the king of action movies. His efficient, military killing style and playful, foreign charm are all you need. He's coupled with wise-guy Tom Arnold of Roseanne fame, which ups the funny tenfold. That's one of the best features of True Lies, it's humour. Everyone in the cast has their shot at comedy and it keeps the movie very light-hearted. The casting of Bill Paxton as a sleezy used-car salesman who pisses his pants at TWO points in the movie is genius. True Lies is pre-9/11 so the villians are generic middle-eastern terrorists sporting turbans and AK-47's, but that just adds to the overall 'this is an action movie' sense that True Lies puts across. It doesn't take itself too seriously. The villian is forgetable but his death is supremely written and very fitting. There's nothing worse then watching an action movie and not feeling like the bad guy got what was coming. This guy does. The killing in the movie is completely original and 'Oh, Shit!' inspiring. Overall, True Lies is an action movie for anyone and I suggest you see it, even if The Notebook is your favourite movie, you'll have fun.

Here's a few clips of Arnold chasing a motorcycle through a hotel on horseback, bonking two dogs heads together in mid-air, teaching Bill Paxton a lesson, and dropping some classic one-liners:

And here's the official trailer:

"It's a snow cone maker. Is it a water heater?"

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