Last Action Hero (1993) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

In Last Action Hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger proves beyond a doubt to be one of the most charismatic screen presence of all-time. Without him the film simply would not work. There are very few actors that have a larger than life persona and regularly mock it. Audiences had seen the former bodybuilder turned movie star, transition into comedies with Twins and Kindergarten Cop. His comedic talent were evident and he wisely chose scripts that discarded his macho persona and focused on his goofy accent, outlandish size or befuddlement at American society, in doing so those film became enormous box office success. So it’s somewhat surprising that Last Action Hero, which was tailor made for the Austrian Oak is still such a mess. This is a movie that cannot decide if it is a parody of action movie or an actual action flick, so what we get is a movie with a few chuckles and a couple of nice stunt pieces, but no real reason for existing.

Not all is rotten, there are a few memorable bits, including a trip to the video-store in the movie within the movie, passing the standee poster for Terminator 2 with Stallone’s face. There is also a rather brilliantly photographed action sequence that takes place on the rooftop of the Hyatt hotel. A circling helicopter equipped with a machine gun, fires round after round into an elevator that hangs on the outside of the building. It is the kind of big-scale, ‘Wow’ moment that Last Action Hero could have used more of. Instead the film lurches from one scene to another without building much interest, at a lengthy 130 minutes this movie runs about 20 minutes long.

By the time, Schwarzenegger’s fictional version reaches the real world the film runs out of steam, completely. McTiernan and his cinematographer Dean Semler, have chosen to shoot the film in a very flat and muted manner. In the movie-world it’s perpetually bright with constant camera flare and great weather, while back in the real-world, New York is eternally dark, rainy and overall dreary. I’m wondering if Mctiernan was the right choice for the material? This project needs a lighter touch, not the director of Die Hard. This is a movie that has elements of Wizard of Oz and The Seventh Seal, yet also features jokes about premature ejaculation and flatulent gangsters. There is a nice moment in which Slater hears Mozart for the first time and gently asks Danny’s mom to turn up the volume. If you look closely there is a good movie lurking around in here somewhere.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Dance, Tom Noonan

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