Last Action Hero
Release year: 1993
Director: John McTiernan
Screenwriter: Zack Penn, Adam Leff, Shane Black, David Arnott
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O’Brien, Charles Dance, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Noonan, Frank McRae, Mercedes Ruehl
Ratings: 7 Saturn Award nominations: Best Fantasy Film, Best Actor (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Austin O’Brien), Best Director, Best Costumes, Best Special Effects, Best Writing.
Danny (Austin O’Brien) is a back movie fan, especially of action hero Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger), occasionally skipping school to re-watch the latest Slater movie. When his best friend, the projectionist Nick (Robert Prosky), offers him a change to see the latest before the premiere Danny is thrilled and to make it extra special, Nick hands him a special ticket he has been told is magic. As the movie starts Danny soon discover how magic the ticket are and suddenly he gets up close and personal with his biggest hero as he is transported into the movie.
Director McTiernan (Die Hard, 1988) has made many popular and brilliant action movies, the type of movies which this 1993 action comedy ironically makes fun of. Slater is exactly the kind of action hero that usually saves the day in your typical action flick, and as one of the greatest action stars Schwarzenegger (The Terminator, 1984) perfectly fits the part. The movie was a box-office failure, perhaps due to people expecting a straight action movie and instead came in to this existential, meta-fictional parody of the genre, but luckily it has later come to be appreciated as the brilliant satire it is, gaining something of a cult status among fans. As the movie takes place both in the real world and the fictional, the difference between the two become apparent with amusing effect. The set-up is fresh and smart with great potential and McTiernan makes full use of it with movies inside movies, investigations of the laws of physics in real world vs. movies, colourful characters and great cameos. Of the colourful characters particular mention worthy is Dance (The Imitation Game, 2014) as the British assassin with a great variety of glass eyes and Noonan (Manhunter, 1986) as Slate’s nemesis Ripper (as well as a cameo as himself). Considering the entertainment value of this greatly formed satire, it is joyful the movie has found the appreciative audience it failed to find on release and hopefully it will continue to find the fans it deserve.
The AC/DC song “Big Gun” was specifically written for this movie after Arnold Schwarzenegger personally approached the group and asked them to write a song for it.
Picture copyrights: Sony Pictures