Last Action Hero

(John McTiernan, USA, 1993)


Last Action Hero is an appalling exercise in cultural bad faith. This tiresome Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle is the kind of film that Hollywood unfortunately feels compelled to produce every few years: one that mocks the entertainment formulae of its most popular genres whilst lamely gesturing towards the immortal achievements of high art.

What this means, in practice, is that director John McTiernan handles the action scenes as if he had never made films like Predator (1987), while the script strains to emulate ersatz art movies like The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985).

In yet another Wizard of Oz (1939) homage, a magic ticket takes a young, movie-crazy boy (Austin O'Brien) behind the screen and into the fictional world of hero Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger). Eventually, after many bad jokes and unexciting pratfalls, Slater in turn catapults into the boy's world.

Why was this terrible film made, and for what possible audience? One suspects skewed motives on Arnie's part: a desperate attempt to glorify himself by parodying his screen image, whilst letting the world know that he's heard of Laurence Olivier and Ingmar Bergman.

Or maybe the Cosmo reviewer got it right: Last Action Hero is for the enjoyment of those who hate action movies. Better still: for those who under no circumstance would ever let themselves even watch an action movie.

MORE McTiernan: Basic

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
home    reviews    essays    search