Last Action Hero
Five out of five stars
LET’S talk about guilty pleasures.
We’ve all got one, or maybe more than one. Whether it’s chicken nuggets with tomato sauce, Willy Wonka Nerd Rope, obscure Victorian soft drinks that no one in Western Australia seems to know about, eating Nutella from the jar, or smashing through a tub of hummus in one sitting.
I’ve been there, I’ve done that – and I definitely have the t-shirt.
But my one time, ultimate guilty pleasure is sitting on the couch, turning the lights off, cranking the volume and watching Arnie movies.
To clarify, I’m talking Arnold Schwarzenegger before the steriods and years of heavy spray tan usage starting to creep up on him.
And definitely before he became the Governor of California.
I’ll settle for any Arnie movie, but the one that holds a special .44 Magnum sized space in my heart is 1993 action fantasy flick Last Action Hero.
When I mentioned to a work colleague that Last Action Hero was being released on Netflix, and my subsequent giddy excitement, I was met with the blank stare of ‘huh?’.
I couldn’t blame him though. Of all of Arnie’s films this one definitely slides to the wayside and into the realm of obscurity.
When Last Action Hero first came out it was met with plenty of negative reviews and was also competing with Jurassic Park for airtime.
But in my eyes, this film is an action masterpiece of epic proportions.
You have Arnie dressed as Hamlet making a cameo; you have Charles Dance as a bad guy (also known as playing Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones for those Millennials out there), Tina Turner pops in for about three seconds, Danny DeVito voice acts as an animated cat, and Ian McKellen appears as Death.
It’s a wild ride in terms of actors, that’s for sure.
But what gets me excited and more than a little confused is that this incredible film was directed by the one, the only, John McTiernan.
Who is John McTiernan you may ask?
Well, let me rattle off a few film titles. Predator, Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard with a Vengence, The 13th Warrior, The Thomas Crown Affair … if you hadn’t guessed by now, he directed all of them.
So why the film is more of a cult classic instead of an outright hit is absolutely beyond me, and with a CV like that, you should be at least tempted to flick over and watch Last Action Hero this Friday night.
If that doesn’t get your engine started though, let me go further.
Last Action Hero is the perfect combination of cringe, comedy, self-awareness, fourth-wall-breakage, homage to action, celebration of kids idolising their movie heroes, and of course Arnie one liners.
From the opening to the final credits we see explosions, glass eyes that honestly make no sense, plenty of bullets, and fast cars.
But when you look past the action film tropes, what really gets you hooked is watching every unsuccessful attempt made by Austin O’Brien’s character Danny Madigan attempting to convince Arnie’s character Jack Slater that he is in fact a fictional character.
Without giving too much away (I’m not in the business of spreading spoilers), Danny manages to transport himself into his favourite action film of all time and then joins his hero, Jack, on a crime fighting adventure.
By the end of the film both Danny and Jack learn something new about themselves, they evolve as characters and learn that there is more to life than being an action star.
So in conclusion, do yourself a massive favour and watch Last Action Hero.
First person to laugh when I say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” because they know where it’s from gets a gold star.