Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chuck Russell|
|Produced by||Anne Kopelson
Michael S. Chernuchin
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Editing by||Michael Tronick|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Release dates||June 21, 1996|
|Running time||115 minutes|
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, but lost to The Ghost and the Darkness.
John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a U.S. Marshal working for the Federal Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC) who specializes 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 (Vanessa L. Williams), a senior executive for Cyrez Corporation, a company that creates and manufactures weapons for the military. Lee has come across plans by Cyrez to sell a top secret electronic pulse rifle to Russian terrorist Sergei Ivanovich Petrofsky (Olek Krupa). The sale of such weapons of unparalleled firepower to the wrong hands would tip the balance of power. To procure evidence, Lee copies critical data onto two discs: one for the FBI, and the other—copied on a whim—as her own security. However, William Donahue (James Cromwell), the corrupt CEO of Cyrez, catches wind of Lee's intentions and orders her into his office. Donahue confiscated her camera and aims the gun at Lee, but commits suicide in order for him to escape punishment, and Lee barely escapes from Cyrez. Disappointed 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.
The same night, Lee is targeted for assassination by a group wielding a couple of the aforementioned pulse rifles. John rescues Lee and takes her to New York City to hide her. However, soon afterwards, John learns from his mentor, fellow Marshal Robert DeGuerin (James Caan), that someone, perhaps a mole within the WITSEC, is targeting witnesses in top-level cases, including Lee. They proceed to the location of one of the targeted witnesses, but DeGuerin kills the witness personally, revealing himself as Donahue's U.S. Marshal mole and a major player in the scam, which includes even Undersecretary of Defense Daniel Harper (Andy Romano), the true mastermind. 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 the evidence against Cyrez has fallen into the hands of the enemy, John, Lee, and Johnny Casteleone (Robert Pastorelli), a mob witness whose life John once saved, penetrate the main office to read Lee's copy, since the data on the disc is encoded for Cyrez computers only. They are discovered, however; DeGuerin kidnaps Lee and has her brought to the Baltimore docks where a railgun shipment is being loaded onto a terrorist freighter. With the aid of Johnny, his cousin Tony Two-Toes (Joe Viterelli) and two associates, John rescues Lee and prevents the railgun shipment by killing all of 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, but subsequently eliminates DeGuerin and the conspirators, "erasing" them thoroughly in an arranged train accident.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as US Marshal John "Eraser" Kruger
- James Caan as US Marshal Robert DeGuerin
- Vanessa L. Williams as Lee Cullen
- James Coburn as WitSec Chief Arthur Beller
- Roscoe as the dog
- Robert Pastorelli as Johnny Casteleone
- James Cromwell as William Donohue
- Danny Nucci as WitSec Deputy Monroe
- Andy Romano as Daniel Harper
- Nick Chinlund as Agent Calderon
- Michael Papajohn as Agent Schiff
- K. Todd Freeman as Agent Duton
- Joe Viterelli as Tony Two-Toes
- Mark Rolston as J. Scar
- John Slattery as Agent Corman
- Robert Miranda as Frediano
- Roma Maffia as Claire Isaacs
- Tony Longo as Little Mike
- John Snyder as Sal
- Jon Cryer as Bartender #2
- Olek Krupa as Sergei Ivanovich Petrofsky
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as one of Petrofsky's guards
Development and casting
Director Chuck Russell and star Arnold Schwarzenegger were originally working on another project together when Eraser was brought to their attention. 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." 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. 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. 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. 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.
The "rail-gun" 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."
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. Following shooting in New York production moved to Washington D.C. 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.
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." 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.
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. Some instances of the "Cyrex" logo are still visible in the finished film.
Eraser had an opening weekend of $24,566,446 in the US during the summer season of 1996. Final US gross would be $101,228,120 and final UK gross was £4,700,340. Following its cinematic run, worldwide box office came to $234,400,000, earning a further $46,032,666 in US video rentals alone, overall the film was a box office success.
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. Despite its generally mixed reviews, the film has garnered a cult following amongst Schwarzenegger fans.
- "Eraser production notes". Warner Bros. 1996. Archived from the original on January 6, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2007.
- Maslin, Janet (1996). "Eraser review". New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2007.
- EM-1 Railgun at the Internet Movie Firearms Database
- "Box office". IMDB Pro. Retrieved April 10, 2007.
- "Eraser (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
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