True Lies (1994)

It’s hard to believe this movie is 19 years old.  I’m not sure I’m really qualified to comment on it because it’s always had a place in my heart with the initial penetration, the tango with Tia Carrere, the chase on horseback, the infidelity bust, the amobarbital, etc. etc.

It’s cheesy and not at all believable. With a fake intelligence/covert operations group, it takes the gags of a comedy and combines them with traditional screenwriting of much more serious spy movies.  It plays on daydreams and fantasies and is quite a bit over the top.  And yet it is compellingly enjoyable.  I think part of that has to do with using the hero as straight man and foil to Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold.  Tom Arnold is actually pretty funny in this movie and when you actually think about it, a lot of it is actually about Jamie Lee Curtis.  They play on our expectations of a movie about a professional spy but then have a wonderful subplot of his every-woman wife caught up in spy activities.  Think of it as a return to 1940’s/1950’s story development through the course of a relationship between a man and a woman.  Yeah, they put women in movies but it’s not always to be anything more than a set-piece or T&A or deus ex machina.  Yes there are some jokes played at his or her expense about modern couple foibles but remember they take her from this:

to this:

and she really enjoys it (willingly) and has a lot of fun.  It’s not just looks but they are an easy way to emphasize the differences.

Don’t believe me?  Compare what happens to her in this movie to Tia Carrere’s character is used for.  Keep in mind that Arnold comes across like a dick and the movie comes across misogynistic and anti-muslim.  Taking the good with the bad, I liked that Helen had the chance to have her adventure.

It’d be a great family movie if it didn’t have her striptease.


Okay, aside from all that, notice how the mysterious government agency isn’t completely understood and yet wields an enormous amount of power.  Also, notice how middle eastern terrorists are the bad guys?  In 1994?  Another post-Cold War spy movie with the villains being terrorists.  Still using a group easily classified as “Other” but going for non-state actors instead of an international conflict.

Go watch it.  It’s aged reasonably well and is a lot of fun.