True Lies stills
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141 min.
Release Date
True Lies poster

James Cameron made True Lies after three prolonged, arduous, back-to-back productions on Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He wanted to make something light and breezy, so he set out to fashion a crowd-pleaser with Arnold Schwarzenegger, adopting a popular mode of action extravaganza with hints of James Bond and domestic comedy. It ended up being another of his famously long and expensive productions. But where usually the ends justify the price tag and effort, True Lies, while fun and boasting a few memorable sequences, doesn’t amount to much. It feels like a throwaway effort from a filmmaker who often weaves heavy sci-fi themes into groundbreaking cinema and who establishes new standards for spectacle. Rewatching True Lies for the first time in over 20 years, I found myself thinking the material was, perhaps, beneath Cameron. While a well-executed shoot-em-up, armed with a bevy of uneven jokes and several wowing set pieces, there’s not much more to the experience than some diverting fun. Perhaps it’s a testament to Cameron’s talent and accomplished filmography elsewhere that the 1994 feature, an action movie that might feel like a superior work for, say, Renny Harlin or other action directors from this era, plays like a minor effort from him.

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