Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero

***

Reviewed by: Stuart Crawford

Few Arnie movies are as unfairly reviled as Last Action Hero. It tends to get lumped in with genuinely awful mid-nineties crap like End Of Days and Jingle All The Way as something to be avoided at all costs, but behind the annoying child protagonist and the knee-deep schmaltz there's a perfectly enjoyable film. Most of its flaws stem from the fact that it was rushed out by the studio, seemingly in an attempt to have it crushed by Jurassic Park. Studios, eh? The then-unknown writing team who went on to pen Bio-Dome and Inspector Gadget doesn't sound too promising, but a screenplay rewrite by Shane Black? Direction by John McTiernan? Charles Dance as the villain intentionally playing a cut-rate Alan Rickman? Iain McKellen as Ingmar Berman's Death? With a little more time and polish this film could have left those dinosaurs in the dust.

As it is, we have a slightly confused metatextual action comedy, a little too arch in its self-referential indulgence to be truly engaging. The annoying child protagonist is an Arnie movie fan who ends up being sucked into an Arnie movie because of reasons. If, like me, you were an 11-year-old Arnie fan when this was released, you were its target audience. That is to say, an 11-year-old fan of 18-rated films is the target audience of this 15-rated film. Studios, eh?

Copy picture

Anyway, ACP wastes no time in repeatedly and irritatingly pointing out to Arnold that they're in a movie, highlighting a number of instances of "movie logic" and cinematic convention. Things start to get interesting when the villain escapes into the "real" world and discovers that he can, quite literally, get away with murder.

The premise could easily have been squandered as a set-up for ridiculously, knowingly over-the-top set pieces, but aside from one farcical scene the action is relatively well-grounded, while the buddy cop dynamic gets properly explored. Half of the fun is spotting the deliberate continuity errors, the action movie references (several to Black's and McTiernan's respective works) and the Acme props. ACP becomes markedly less A as time goes on, and while the film rushes towards the end and lacks a satisfying climax, it leaves behind the impression that, with just a bit more care and attention, it could have been a contender.

Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2013
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A boy finds himself transported into the world of his favourite film hero.
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Director: John McTiernan

Writer: Zak Penn, Adam Leff

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Charles Dance, Mercedes Ruehl, Ian McKellen

Year: 1993

Runtime: 130 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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