Film Reviews

Last Action Hero (1993)

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Starring: Austin O’Brien, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Dance, Anthony Quinn

Director: John McTiernan

I remember getting this film out on VHS when I was a kid from Video Ezy, and then watching it a bunch of times because I loved it. I didn’t realise at the time that it had been pitched against Jurassic Park, and had been much maligned as a film and even considered a flop.

It’s the story of a young boy (O’Brien) in New York who loves to skip school to watch movies. His friend is an old projectionist who gives him a magic golden ticket as a gift when they find out that the cinema is being closed down. Neither one thinks that the ticket is really magic, until the boy uses it and enters a classic action film starring his favourite star Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger). He soon finds himself embroiled in Jack’s latest case, in a race against time to stop the bad guys.

But that plot line is really just the bones of the film. It’s not The Purple Rose Of Cairo or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. It’s an exploration and parody of films and cinema, a love letter to the action films and genre tropes that by the 90’s had become iconic.

There are so many tiny little things in this film that I missed as a child. All the cliches are explored. There are the cops three days from retirement. The police chief who constantly shouts. The bad guy has a glass eyes that can be used as explosives. Sam Spade (Bogart himself!) makes a brief appearance in the police station. It’s a walk through cinema by someone who clearly loves movies, and takes the piss out of everything along the way.

In the final act, it shifts gears, as the bad guy heads into the real world via the stolen golden ticket, and the good guys have to chase him, and stop the evil. But the rules of the real world are so different, and in a lot of ways, it’s a darker place.

This film is really fun, and Schwarzenegger has a wonderful time sending himself up. It’s full of colour and life, and laughs, as well as a good buddy journey at its’ heart. It’s odd to think that it was ever set up at a straight action movie in it’s marketing, and that it was hoped to compete with Jurassic Park in the Box Office stakes. Although it’s quite lush and lavish, it feels like a small, personal film really. It’s not something that I think everyone will get, but at the same time, it was so fun to watch this one again.

See It If: you’ve ever wanted to enter the world of your favourite movie or if you love old action movies, it’s a really fun film.

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24 thoughts on “Last Action Hero (1993)”

  1. I remember this film. It was one of favorite movies as a child. This post was a great reminder of those moment I spent on the couch watching this movie with my family. VHS sucked compared to today’s technology, but they were amazing in their own way. I still remember the slogan, “Be kind. Remind.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really interesting movie this. It had meta humour before that was a big thing (like it is now), and loads of little things you wouldn’t pick up (like you say) without further viewings.

    Personal faves include Franco Columbo being the director of Jack Slater movie (Franco was Arnie’s best mate and follow body builder), the stunt double thrown out of a truck in T2 has a similar role as a goon in this, and “there’s a gun in the glove compartment” bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember it being panned by the critics but I loved it. Hey, what do “they” know?
    Nice review. I want to watch it again, too:) Also remember the darkness of the real world contrasted with the bright movie world. Arnie and Charles were brilliant in this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly still can’t believe why this movie eventually turned into such a flop and got such negative reviews. It’s one of those things that you can’t explain. I’m currently in the middle of writing a review for the 2011 prequel to the thing, and that’s also one of those movies that got pretty much destroyed for reasons I can’t explain.
    Getting back to this though, I loved this film as much as you did. There was so much fun in this movie, especially with the jokes about Stallone. Such great stuff. This movie was one of Schwarzenegger’s most fun movies, and after reading this, I really like to rewatch it again one of these days. Fantastic post as always πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      Yeah, I think marketing used to play a bigger part back then than we realise. I can understand being told I was going to see an action movie and getting a comedy instead would be quite annoying. But it’s so interesting how these things turn out

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this movie! It’s a loving paean to 80s action movies at the end of that era, and as you say, it oddly evokes the innocence and simplicity of those films in a way that you wouldn’t expect. It’s also an entertaining film in its own right, with brilliant performances from Schwarzenegger and a villainous Charles Dance (“I’ve just shot somebody, I did it on purpose!”). My only criticism is that it probably goes on a bit too long. But still, great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haven’t seen it in years. Remember it being uneven (is it for kids? adults? both?) but will have to give it another watch – I’m a massive Arnie and McTiernan fan after all!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw it in the cinema, and it’s a film I’ve enjoyed many times over the years. Arnie’s willingness to send himself up is what helps to make it such a fun watch, especially since he generally comes across as quite serious.

    Liked by 1 person

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