Tag Archives: Charlton Heston

The Set of 400: #57 – My Favorite Elevator Police Horse

Today! Because I remember the first time I got shot out of a cannon –

True Lies (1994)

Directed by James Cameron (x4)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (x3), Jamie Lee Curtis (x3), Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton (x6), Grant Heslov, Eliza Dushku (x2), Charlton Heston (x2), Art Malik

I have a tendency to forget how balls-out insane the climax of this movie gets, because the brilliant middle section of the film pulls the action-adventure epic so far into straight comedy. In a lot of ways, True Lies is the ultimate ’90s action film, while somehow working as a terrific parody of the genre and cinematic era in general. It’s hard to tell if the movie builds toward the utterly ludicrous final showdown as a way of satirizing the bombastic action movies of the day and before, or if it just wanted to try and top them all. Amazingly, it works in either fashion, from certain points of view.

Schwarzenegger’s recent forays into full-on comedy with the likes of Kindergarten Cop and Twins served him well playing secret-agent-disguised-as-computer-salesman (albeit a super jacked one) Harry Tasker. His James Bond/Rambo operative gets off plenty of jokes and light-touch comic moments, amidst the daring and derring-do, opposite great comedy turns by Tom Arnold and Grant Heslov as his team members, Jamie Lee Curtis as his unsuspecting wife, and especially the late, great Extreme, Bill Paxton, as the oily car salesman gaslighting as a secret agent himself. When this middle section of the film starts, it feels like a wild left turn in the plot – up until then, we are just following a fun but routine spy-centric plot about smuggled weapons and Tia Carrere’s revealing eveningwear – but quickly resources are diverted, attention is shifted, and Paxton’s sleezy Simon is full center. While this whole sequence does open the door for all the wacky complications that lead to the film’s kidnap escaping/nuclear explosion/helicopter-limo rescue/Harrier jet-skyscraper third act, it also is the true genius stroke of the film, even if it only tangentially matters to the story. Without Simon trying to seduce Helen, you’d have an undoubtedly fun but pretty standard Schwarzenegger romp. Forever MVP the Extreme! Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #306 – My Favorite Latin Argument

Today! Because you are a good woman, then again, you may be the antichrist –

Tombstone (1993)

Directed by George P. Cosmatos

Starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer (x2), Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Dana Delany, Paula Malcomson, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, Billy Zane (x2), Jason Priestley, Dana Wheeler- Nicholson, Jon Tenney, Michael Rooker (x2), Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Ben-Victor, John Corbett, Terry O’Quinn, Frank Stallone, Harry Carey Jr. (x2), Robert Mitchum (x2)

In the hectic western revival of the early ’90s – following Clint Eastwood’s masterful return to form with the Best Picture winning Unforgiven in ’92 – we as a people had a serious choice to make. Would we adopt a Kurt Russell Wyatt Earp movie, directed by the man who brought us Rambo: First Blood Part II, as our one-and-only, or would we opt for the Kevin Costner version, an hour longer and directed by Empire Strikes Back screenwriter and Big Chill director Lawrence Kasdan? This was some kind of dilemma.

Thankfully, the first one to make it to theaters (by six whole months) was perfectly enjoyable, and we could all save ourselves three-plus hours of our lives, at the beginning of Costner’s rapid descent from stardom in the mid-’90s. Tombstone may be the glossier, goofier take on the old legend, but it is infinitely more fun, and features an arguably superior cast (Costner’s does have Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Bill Pullman, Isabella Rosselini, Michael Madsen, and Three-Timer JoBeth Williams, though). Plus, it doesn’t try to out-western Clint – while Wyatt Earp really thought it could bring the gravity by adding running time and a brooding Costner. But hey, Earp did earn that one Oscar nomination – more than Tombstone by one! Congrats, Best Cinematography nod! Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Movies