This is of the edited TV-14 version of the film and all thoughts below should be read as such. A review of the uncut version would likely be more negative as edited versions help to address my complaints for a product…typically.
It’s time for another Arnold film and this is one that I definitely hadn’t heard of before. It essentially tries to be a James Bond film and I have to wonder if Cameron has ever seen one. That is one formula that you really don’t want to emulate and this film falls into a lot of the same holes that the Bond films create. True Lies ended up being below average and a film that I would not recommend, but it was decent for the most part. It simply could not recover from its mistakes.
Harry is a double agent who works for a very secret organization. His family does not know about this and they think that he just has a very boring job. His wife knows that Harry is passionate about it though so everything was going well until the Terrorists struck. Harry must now try to stop them even if it may expose his identity and Helen decides to get into an adventure of her own, but this ends up being a bit of a dangerous move. Will she be able to succeed or is she doomed? Those are the main plots of the film.
Let’s dive into the main negative, which crippled the film. That would be Helen’s plot as she essentially decides to abandon her family and practically cheat on Harry as she meets someone who claims to be a secret agent. She stops him after the guy tries to make out with her, but he still succeeded for a little before she stopped him, which was awful. From there, she also accepted a mission to be a hooker and we had a painfully long scene of her dancing for the villain in disguise. It was all just terrible and that scene alone guaranteed that this film would get a negative score. That was just terrible and I don’t think that any film could recover from such a thing.
The Helen subplot was just not necessary and it took quite a while to finish. Harry was also way too mean during those moments as well like when he forced her to take up the mission and do all of those degrading things. He was not a good main character by any stretch of the imagination nor was she a good heroine. She was ready to abandon her family and travel to another country on a whim, that’s just not smart and she also appeared to be very naive.
As for Harry, I’ve already explained how he’s a pretty bad hero. He also flirts with the enemies in classic James Bond style. At least James Bond isn’t married, but Harry is so he really shouldn’t be messing around. He doesn’t actually do anything, but the flirting is still unnecessary. He can accomplish his mission while being stone cold, that’s what the villains do right? He’s a good fighter and typically knows how to beat a group of enemies with a single gun. As an agent, Harry is probably even better than James Bond since 007 managed to lose to a random thief in Skyline while he was at his peak. I don’t think it’s even debatable which agent is more adept at hand to hand combat.
The film’s fairly light toned as it is a mix of comedy and action throughout. There is even a scene where a character drops a gun and the bullets take out about a dozen men. Harry takes care of the rest and he gets an epic one liner as he takes down the leader of the villains. There were no real interesting villains as the main one is very generic. At least the film used him to make the terrorists look rather inept, which is always good and I wouldn’t want him to be likable anyway. One of his foot soldiers is the lady who is around to distract Harry, but she never really gets to try this and just acts to make Helen jealous.
As you can see, most of the characters are pretty bad. Even Harry’s daughter is rather sad as she actually steals money from people and it’s a very unnecessary addition to her character. She is presented to be overly rude and that’s considering that Helen and Harry are already not the greatest of leads. Harry’s partner is the “funny” guy of the group and he gets a ton of burns and one liners, but he also has a number of them that just make him look bad. I definitely didn’t like him either although he’s certainly more charismatic than the other players.
It’s too bad because the film actually started out really well. The opening scene was like a James Bond film, but without going too far and the snow action scene was good. Of course, the first sign that this film was going to take a plunge was when Harry hit two dogs into each other. That was when I knew that the film didn’t really stand a chance and animal violence is always a sign that the film’s writers did not know what to do. It’s just unnecessary and rather sad. I really don’t mind the fact that this film didn’t get a sequel. It would ideally be better than the first film, but that’s still not saying much.
At least, I got to see another meme in the making. When Harry punches the fake agent while they are in the car, I instantly recognized the scene. It was used a lot online back in the day and I always wondered where it came from. Now that I’ve seen that one and the one from the Planet of the Apes, I’ve seen just about all of the big meme/gifs from the olden days. The main one that I’m missing now is the slow clap gif and I may still have scene that film. The actor in it looks familiar at any rate.
This film could not win so it’s good that Cameron already has a good resume with other films. It will be ironic if James Bond comes back to defeat True Lies with its upcoming film and the scary thing is that there is actually a possibility of that. The next James Bond film looks like it could finally be decent and it has more potential than all of the old ones with the exception of Skyfall. Skyfall wasn’t great, but they cut out most of the romance plots that have plagued the series and this one looks to continue that. Of course, Mission Impossible was always a better James Bond than the James Bond films so it’s all a little moot.
Overall, This is an old blockbuster that really couldn’t match up to the newer ones. Arnold and Cameron were around, but they simply couldn’t produce another winner this time. With such a large budget, they should have put more funds towards making the characters more likable. This review actually came across as even more negative than I had planned, but sometimes retrospect can make a film age even worse than you may have guessed. At the moment, it’s hard to think of any real positives. The film was fun during a lot of the moments, which would have to be its only real pro. It’s easy to watch for the most part and the pacing wasn’t bad, but when you have to endure the Helen subplot for well over 20 minutes…it just gets to be a little too much.