Fox // 1994 // 141 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // July 14th, 1999
When he said I do, he didn't say what he did.
True Lies is one of those James Cameron flicks that we sophisticated, genteel people would love to hate. The problem is we can't. This film is way too entertaining for that.
True Lies tells the story of Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Harry is a super-spy by day and night, but his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) has no idea what he does. She thinks he is a boring salesman. Looking for some excitement in her life, Helen seeks it in the company of Simon (Bill Paxton) who plays with women by telling them he is a spy. He hopes this will build him up in their eyes and allow him to "take advantage" of them sexually. Harry finds out that Helen is seeing Simon and "investigates" his own wife on company time. Naturally, this leads to some very funny moments.
The 2.35:1 widescreen transfer of this film by Fox is really excellent, especially for a film that is not anamorphically enhanced. Black level was deeply black and very solid. Flesh tones were a bit red and orange at times. However, the image stability was generally quite good, and even the explosions were crisp and clearly defined. There was no obvious processing or grain in the picture throughout the presentation.
The audio here is really top notch. Whether the THX certification helps the cause is subject to debate, but the quality of this track is not. This disc is filled with effects and explosions. Our favorite two "E" words. Naturally, this track will give your speakers a complete and total workout, as you would expect. There are so many "demo" scenes in this film, it would be hard to choose just one. Buy it, watch it, and decide for yourself.
Now, for the acting. Look, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator, Twins) is no De Niro. But then again, few are. But, Arnold has proved time and again that he can carry a film that is based largely around action and comedy and this film is clearly both. Cameron's use of the comedic element here is superb and Tom Arnold is a crackup from the word go. Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Trading Places) is a particular standout. She uses her comedic talents so well, she's even funny while being sexy. A terrific combination if ever there was one. It was also nice to pick out Eliza Dushku early in her career. For you "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (TV show) fans, she plays Faith. This is one of the really fun things I enjoy about being a film fan. The ability to pick out now famous actors very early in their career in films I didn't even know they appeared in. This was such a case.
I really have nothing bad to say about this disc save for the lack of extras. While Fox includes a separate menu item for "extra features" they only include a theatrical trailer, which is too bad. I guess any real extras would have necessitated the involvement of Cameron himself to some degree, which was probably impossible at this point.
If you are a fan of action movies, then this is a must addition to your library. The action is fast and furious for most of the movie. And the action is supplemented quite well by some really funny moments. This is as good, if not better, in my opinion than any of the Lethal Weapon series.
The film and disc are acquitted. Fox is sentenced to 30 days hard labor until they learn to give us what we want, namely TONS OF EXTRAS with discs like this.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 141 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer