Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leads a double life as a dull husband and super spy in 1994’s True Lies, which turned out to be truer than anyone knew in light of Arnie’s own marital indiscretions.
This remake of the French movie La Totale! is something of an outlier in James Cameron’s sci-fi and epic-heavy filmography, but executed with his usual firepower. A master of delivering mass entertainment without compromising his storytelling, Cameron knows how to make movies look expensive and get a decent performance out of the usually atrocious Austrian; a rare case where his character actually seems smart, albeit psychotic.
Stealing focus from Arnie is no mean feat but Jamie Lee Curtis manages it as Harry’s dangerously bored wife (having thwarted Michael Myers and married the Terminator she surely deserves a spot in The ExpendaBelles), while Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton and a young Eliza Dushku are brilliantly funny in memorable supporting roles.
Where movies like Johnny English or Kingsman are content to make fun of the spy genre, True Lies is better than the films it parodies. The comedy is sharp and the action consistently outdoes itself, but it’s the central relationship that keeps raising the stakes and driving the drama (like a more heterosexual Point Break). It’s really a screwball comedy posing as a terrorism thriller; the escalating plotlines and absurd stunts keep threatening to blow the film’s cover, but it somehow lands every time.