Last Action Hero (1993)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres: Action, Action Thriller, Comedy, Fantasy, Fantasy Comedy
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John McTiernan John McTiernan
Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Schwarzenegger
F. Murray Abraham F. Murray Abraham
Art Carney Art Carney
Charles Dance Charles Dance
Frank McRae Frank McRae

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: August 28, 2007
First off, to hell with anyone and everyone who hates this film. I grew up with it. Even at ten-years-old, I could quote just about every line in this film. Now, as an adult, I have a fonder appreciation for it because I now know all of the film references contained therein. How does a ten-year-old know what "The Seventh Seal" is? However, let us first examine the pedigree of "Last Action Hero". It was directed by John McTiernan, who has given us the following classics: "Predator", "Die Hard", "The Hunt for Red October" and "Die Hard With A Vengeance". It stars the greatest action star in the history of film, Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, it manages to make him funny.

The film stars then newcomer Austin O'Brien as Danny Madigan, a New York teenager who'd rather skip school and go to the movies that do his Shakespeare homework. The theatres he visits is an old, beaten down place ran by an old kook named Nick (Robert Prosky). The big movie: the "Jack Slater" action series, which happens to have a new installment opening soon. When Nick invites Danny to attend a late night screening, Danny jumps at the chance, and thanks to Nick and a magic movie ticket given to him by Harry Houdini, Danny winds up in the very fictitious world of Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) -- in a sense, it puts him in the movie.

What makes the film work is the double shot. First, we get to see a real boy interacting in the fictitious world that Jack Slater calls home -- where guns never run out of ammunition, where cars just blow up when lightly grazed, where a bullet to the chest is nothing but a flesh wound. Schwarzenegger plays all of this brilliantly, as we meet his old pal John Practice (F. Murray Abraham), his daughter Whitney (Bridgette Wilson) and his overbearing chief, played by the great Frank McRae. We even meet Whiskers, an animated cat voiced by Danny DeVito. Jack's world is just what you would expect it to be -- over the top, making little sense whatsoever, just like an action film. But, then we get to see Jack transported into reality, where he can't punch his hand through a glass without it hurting like hell -- a world where he is both himself and the actor playing himself.

The villainy is provided by Anthony Quinn as mobster Tony Vivaldi and the wonderful Charles Dance as Benedict, who is an expert marksman and rather good with the one liners too. Dance makes a convincing villain and he has all the fun in the world with his character, as does Quinn as a not so bright Sicilian who wants a bloodbath every time you turn around. Art Carney pops up as Slater's favorite second cousin, Tom Noonan as The Ripper, who kills Jack's youngest child, and Sir Ian McKellen, as Death himself from "The Seventh Seal". There are a lot of other cameos in the film, and a lot of fantastic lines. My favorite: "Are you a farmer? Well, here's a couple of acres". The script was penned by Shane Black, who brought us "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and it is dripping with his humor throughout. Arnold delivers the lines with a new kind of comedic energy we usually don't see from him.

This film was not terribly successful when released, maybe because people didn't know what to make of it, or what kind of demographic it appealed to. It's not really a kid's film because there is a lot of violence and blood, but it is not solely for adults either because it has this wide-eyed whimsy to it that children would enjoy. But, what kid is going to understand some of the references in this film? I love how "Last Action Hero" makes total fun of the genre it's actually stuck in, and never relents in showing us the dos and don'ts of that genre. This is to action films what "Scream" was to horror films. Too bad it wasn't appreciated the way it should have been. I thoroughly recommend this film. Loved it as a kid and love it as an adult. It just works.

ThunderStruck5a #1: ThunderStruck5a - added 08/28/2007, 02:46 AM
bummer i just passed this up in the bargain bin for friday the 13th VIII
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 08/29/2007, 08:02 PM
Even though that movie blew, it was the better choice. Horror > everything else
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 05/16/2010, 11:56 PM
I grew up with this movie as well. 8/10
AttnDefDis #4: AttnDefDis - added 01/03/2011, 07:51 PM
As did I. Plus, I actually love this review. I agree with pretty much everything. Except I think this movie is way better at poking fan at it's own genre than Scream. Everything was really well done here.
Chad #5: Chad - added 11/30/2011, 07:12 PM
I wasn't a big fan of that kid in the leading role, but otherwise, I'm going with the herd here. Fun movie, with just the right mix of legit action and self-referential parody / comedy. Thumbs up.
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