Eraser (1996) – Review

3 Stars

Eraser is a latter-day entry into the Schwarzenegger summer box-office blockbuster bonanzas. It lacks the style, charm, and sophistication of predecessors like True Lies or Total Recall, but Eraser has small pleasures that add up to an entertaining experience with the big man totting bigger guns and throwing-out outrageous one-liners.

John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leading agent at a government shadow agency that specializes in witness protection. An employee (Vanessa Williams) for a weapons company turns whistleblower and becomes the target of assassins. She is aided by Schwarzenegger who becomes obsessed with keeping the witness alive in the face of double-crosses and danger. James Caan is Arnold’s mentor who may or may not be playing for the wrong team. Robert Pastorelli provides comedic relief as a sort-of sidekick, a former mafia tough-guy who escaped execution due to Kruger’s efforts.

The formula for box-office success was in high-gear with Eraser, its slick, violent, and not too dumb. Arnold looks toned down physically , but that just makes his resemblance to Eastwood that more apparent. Good chemistry between Vanessa Williams and Schwarzenegger add a human dimension that the script probably never intended. As Eraser played out, I was aware of all the formulaic elements bring presented, but the film makes the preordained feel original and alive. Great support comes in small roles for James Cann, James Coburn,Robert Pastorelli, and James Cromwell.

Eraser is a lot like Stallone’s Cobra, its more style over story-telling substance. Both films should have spawned sequels for their respective stars. Even with all of the clichéd elements, mandated Schwarzenegger one-liners, and predictable plotting–Eraser worked for me.

Director: Chuck Russell
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, Vanessa Williams

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