Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Ten Reasons Why I Don't Like "True Lies."

I made a comment in my post below disparaging the James Cameron/Arnold Schwarzenegger film True Lies.

Ace, who kindly linked to me, was curious why I felt that the movie treated Muslims stereotypically. Here's what I wrote:

True Lies always struck me as being too comical with its portrayal of Muslims. The whole "incompetent boob raghead" deal.

Sure, they were terrorists, and we can laugh at terrorists, but I guess I didn't really laugh. Maybe what bothered me most wasn't that True Lies made all the Muslim terrorists cardboard victims for Arnie's patented necktwist of doom as it seemed to belittle the threat that some of us (very few of us) feared even then.

It's okay to ignore the bad guys when they're simply the Three Stooges with AK-47's. It's another thing entirely when they're complex, three-dimensional characters who just happen to want to murder every man, woman and child who won't worship their God.
Bottom line: I'm far from overly sensitive about these things (I'm about the most un-PC a guy can get without becoming John Derbyshire), but True Lies still struck me as gratuitous.

However, that's only reason #10 why I dislike True Lies, even to this day.

Now, don't assume I have it in for the Governator: I love a lot of Ahnuld movies. Conan, the first two Terminators, and the time-capsule-worthy work of brilliant art that is Predator are all glorious achievements in cinema. I just happen to think that True Lies is painfully overrated.


So, off the top of my head, here are Ten Reasons Why I Don't Like True Lies:

10. The aforementioned comical villains.

9. It made Eliza Dushku scruffy looking.

8. It's too long, by at least 30 minutes.

7. Tom Arnold stole the movie. Any movie that could be stolen by Tom Arnold is by definition deeply flawed.

6. The Bill Paxton character is gratingly annoying. Ditto the very-hot-but-very-bland Tia Carerre.

5. All that damn neck-snapping. Maybe it's just my natural sympathy for the poor evil henchmen of the world, but all the neck-snapping made the movie feel like the most violent video game ever.

4. I'm sure that Jamie Lee Curtis is a very nice lady, and I've enjoyed her acting at times, but let's be honest, she has a face that can cut glass. And man-hands. Sure, her body is amazing in the film, but I can't fathom how the audience is supposed to believe that she's the second coming of beauty, like a lot of critics made her out to be at the time.

3. Arnold phoned it in. Watch True Lies, then watch the even worse The Last Action Hero. It's the same grinning performance. He's never been a great actor, but after Hero and True Lies he settled into the parody of himself that continued in every subsequent film.

2. That whole kidnapping/strip sequence with Jamie Lee Curtis is just god-awful creepy. Yeah, yeah-- Ahnuld was helping her out of her shell, blah blah blah. I'm sorry, but in most other films, a husband who pulled that stunt would be slapped with a restraining order. Or gasoline to his bed. It's pretty sadistic, and it made me really dislike Arnold's character.

1. It was the most formulaic movie James Cameron ever made (and yes, I'm including Piranha II: The Spawning).

Aliens, the Terminators, The Abyss, even Titanic are all amazing exercises in imagination. True Lies was supposed to be Cameron's attempt at James Bond-style movie, but it ended up being Commando with a bigger budget.

It will always be a disappointment to me. While I really wish Cameron would make more movies, I'm just glad that he hasn't bothered to waste our time by making a non-essential sequel to True Lies.

You are so right, especially about #2. That seen still makes me squirm. Ugh.
Commando was a terrific movie. I once counted how many people we actually witness Arnold killing in that movie, and it's something like 75. The movie is so full of testosterone that the box actually grows hair. I can't think of any action movie more unintentionally hilarious than Commando.
Oh, I love Commando, for all the reasons I don't like True Lies. It's because Commando simply is what it is.

One moment, dad's eating ice cream with Alyssa Milano. The next moment, dad's impaling a Freddy Mercury lookalike on a steam pipe.

It's a children's movie, really.
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