Eraser (film)

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Not to be confused with Eraserhead.
Eraser (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chuck Russell
Produced by Anne Kopelson
Arnold Kopelson
Screenplay by
  • Tony Puryear
  • Walon Green
Story by
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Edited by Michael Tronick
Kopelson Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • June 21, 1996 (1996-06-21)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million[1]
Box office $242.3 million[1]

Eraser is a 1996 American action film directed by Chuck Russell, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan and Vanessa L. Williams. The film was released in the United States on June 21, 1996. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Sound Effects Editing in 1996.


John Kruger is a U.S. Marshal working for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC) specializing in "erasing" high-profile witnesses, faking their deaths to keep them safe from those who may wish to silence them. John is assigned to protect Lee Cullen, a senior executive for Cyrez Corporation, a defense contractor. Lee has come across plans by Cyrez to sell a top secret electronic pulse rifle to Russian mobster Sergei Ivanovich Petrofsky, which threatens to usher in a dangerous new era of global terrorism.

To procure evidence, Lee copies critical data onto two discs: one for the FBI, and the other as her own security. However, William Donahue, the corrupt executive of Cyrez facilitating the arms sale, catches wind of Lee's intentions and orders her into his office. After confiscating Lee's hidden camera and threatening her with a pistol, Donahue commits suicide in front of her. Disgruntled with the FBI because of failure to guarantee her safety, she delivers the evidence but refuses to submit herself to WITSEC, despite John's advice.

That night, Lee's house is attacked by Cyrez gunmen armed with pulse rifles. John rescues Lee and takes her to New York City to hide her. However, John soon learns from his mentor, fellow Marshal Robert DeGuerin, that Lee is being targeted by a mole within WITSEC. However, it is revealed that DeGuerin himself is the mole, and is involved in the arms sale along with Undersecretary of Defense Daniel Harper. In order to facilitate his plans, DeGuerin tries to frame John as the mole, but John escapes and rescues Lee in the nick of time.

Since Harper has destroyed the original disc, John, Lee, and Johnny Casteleone, a mob witness whose life John saved in the beginning of the film, penetrate Cyrez's office to read Lee's security-encoded copy. They are discovered, however; DeGuerin kidnaps Lee and has her brought to the Baltimore docks where a railgun shipment is being loaded onto a Russian freighter. With the aid of Johnny, his cousin Tony Two-Toes and two associates, John rescues Lee and stops the shipment by killing the terrorists, including Petrofsky. DeGuerin is critically wounded during the struggle but is rescued by John and handed over to the authorities.

After a hearing for DeGuerin and his fellow conspirators a few weeks later, and with the implication that under civil law jurisdiction a conviction and sentence of the culprits will not be possible, John publicly fakes his and Lee's death. He subsequently eliminates DeGuerin and the conspirators, "erasing" them thoroughly in an arranged train accident.



Development and casting[edit]

Director Chuck Russell and star Arnold Schwarzenegger were originally working on another project together when Eraser was brought to their attention.[2] Russell was excited about the possibilities the film could bring between actor and the character: "I see Arnold the way a lot of people do -- as a mythic, bigger-than-life character -- and that's who Kruger is. The character and the scenario are based firmly in reality, but I liked the mythic proportions of this man with a strong sense of duty, a strong sense of honor, who will literally do anything to protect a noble witness. I was excited about doing a film that had heroic proportions."[2] Producer Arnold Kopelson was also keen to cast Schwarzenegger in the role of "The Eraser", having talked with the actor about working on projects before.[2] Vanessa Williams would be cast as the lead female character, Lee Cullen, the key witness Eraser must protect. Williams came to the attention of the Kopelsons when Maria Shriver, the wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, suggested her for the role.[2] To play the character of DeGuerin (Kruger's mentor and the main sociopathic antagonist), the filmmakers wanted an actor who could "convey intelligence, skill and magnetism - a more mature version of the Kruger character", they would cast James Caan in this role.[2] The screenplay was initially the work of Tony Puryear, who had a background in advertising and rap videos. Writers Walon Green and Michael S. Chernuchin had previously worked together on the television drama Law & Order.[3]


The "rail-gun"[4] featured in the film as a key plot device, Schwarzenegger talks on the subject: "We paid a lot of attention to making the audience feel the danger of this weapon, that anyone can be outside of your house, looking right through the walls. It really leaves you nowhere to hide," he explains. "But, on top of that, we show the sophistication of the weapon in a lot of fun ways: you not only see through a building, you see a person's skeleton and even their heart beating inside. There are some great visual effects there."[2]


Eraser began principal photography in New York City, locations would include The Harlem Rail Yard in the South Bronx, Central Park's Sheep Meadow and Chinatown.[2] Following shooting in New York production moved to Washington D.C.[2] For the action sequence which takes place in the Reptile House of New York City Zoo, interiors were built on the soundstages of the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.[2]

One of the most demanding action sequences in the film featured the character of Kruger forced to flee from a jet speeding through the skies at 250 miles per hour. Speaking about this scene, director Russell says: "These things are jigsaw puzzle pieces not only within shooting sequence but within each shot. You had elements that were live action, elements that were miniature, sometimes computer-generated, and they're all married together in the final processing."[2] Some of the physical stunts were performed by Schwarzenegger himself. For the "aerial" stunt Arnold was required to fall 65 feet in vertical descent and perform a back flip in mid-flight. The shot took seven takes to get right. In the final film, Kruger appears to drop along the length of the fuselage and past the flaming engine of the Jet thanks to inventive camera angles and special effects.

Post production[edit]

The original name of the Cyrez corporations was "Cyrex". However, Cyrix, a microprocessor corporation and rival of Intel, protested. The name was then changed digitally in any scenes where the name appeared in a fairly costly process for the time, and dialogue redubbed.[5] Some instances of the "Cyrex" logo are still visible in the finished film.


Box office[edit]

Eraser had an opening weekend of $24.5 million in the US during the summer season of 1996. The final US gross was $101.2 million and final worldwide gross was $242.3 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Based on 45 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 36%, with an average score of 4.9/10.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Eraser". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Eraser production notes". Warner Bros. 1996. Archived from the original on January 6, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2007. 
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1996). "Eraser review". New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2007. 
  4. ^ EM-1 Railgun at the Internet Movie Firearms Database
  5. ^ Puig, Claudia (June 12, 1996). "Chip Maker Gets Warner Bros. to Erase Its Name from Action Film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 14, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Eraser (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 

External links[edit]