True Lies

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True Lies
True lies poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by James Cameron
Stephanie Austin
Screenplay by James Cameron
Story by James Cameron
Randall Frakes
Based on La Totale! 
by Claude Zidi
Simon Michaël
Didier Kaminka
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tom Arnold
Bill Paxton
Tia Carrere
Art Malik
Eliza Dushku
Grant Heslov
Charlton Heston
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Editing by Conrad Buff
Mark Goldblatt
Richard A. Harris
Studio Lightstorm Entertainment
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Universal Pictures (UK)
Release dates
  • July 15, 1994 (1994-07-15)
Running time 140 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $115 million[2]
Box office $378,882,411[2]

True Lies is a 1994 American action comedy film co-written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. True Lies is an extended remake of the 1991 French film La Totale!,[3] which was directed by Claude Zidi and starred Thierry Lhermitte and Miou-Miou.

True Lies was the first Lightstorm Entertainment project to be distributed under Cameron's multi-million dollar production deal with 20th Century Fox, as well as the first major production for the visual effects company Digital Domain, which was co-founded by Cameron. True Lies was the only feature film collaboration outside of the Terminator series to feature Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and Brad Fiedel as director, actor, and composer respectively.

Upon its release, True Lies was one of the most expensive films ever made, costing $100[4][5]–120[6] million, and grossed $378 million theatrically worldwide (1994).[2]

True Lies was a big commercial and critical success. For her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress, while Cameron won the Saturn Award for Best Director. The film was also nominated at the Academy Awards and the BAFTAs in the Best Visual Effect category, and for seven Saturn Awards overall.


Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger) leads a double life, performing covert missions for the U.S government under a counter-terrorism task force called "The Omega Sector". Albert "Gib" Gibson (Arnold) and Faisal (Heslov) assist him in these missions under the command of Spencer Trilby. However, Harry's wife, Helen (Curtis), and his daughter, Dana (Dushku), believe he is a boring computer salesman with Tektel Systems (the cover company for Omega Sector) doing a lot of "corporate" travel.

Harry's latest mission in Switzerland reveals the existence of a Palestinian terrorism organization group known as the Crimson Jihad, led by Salim Abu Aziz. Harry suspects that antiques dealer Juno Skinner has ties to Aziz. After visiting her, Harry is chased by Aziz's men through a shopping mall and a large hotel, meanwhile missing the birthday party that his wife and daughter have arranged for him.

When Harry goes to Helen's office the next day to surprise her and take her to lunch, he overhears a conversation with her coworker about "Simon", a man she is seeing, causing Harry to worry about their marriage. Using the Omega Sector's resources (including a GPS tracker and wireless microphone hidden in her purse), he tracks down Simon, who turns out to be a used car salesman posing as a spy to seduce Helen. Helen is kidnapped by Harry's agency from Simon's trailer and left in a bare concrete interrogation room with a one way mirror. Harry questions her using a voice distorter about her relationship with "Simon" and about their marriage. She says that she wanted to have adventure in her life for once since Harry never gave her that. Harry realizes his cover as a boring salesman was too convincing. He decides to spice up Helen's life to make her happy by giving her a choice: go on a "mission" or be sent to prison. She chooses the mission: to pose as a prostitute and plant a bug on the phone of an arms dealer. Before she has a chance to plant the bug, Harry (who poses as the arms dealer) insists that she dance for him. The sham is interrupted by Aziz's men who burst into the room, taking both of them hostage, and subsequently flying them to the terrorist hideout somewhere in the Florida Keys.

Aziz reveals he possesses small nuclear warheads hidden inside antique statues shipped by Juno and plans to detonate one to demonstrate his power to the United States. Harry reveals his secret double life, much to Helen's shock, when the terrorists threaten Helen's life. Harry then escapes, frees Helen and attacks the camp, trying to stop the planned detonation. While fighting Aziz's troops, Harry appears to die in an explosion. Helen is recaptured and is taken by Aziz, Juno, and the terrorists as they escape the island before a nuclear warhead is set to detonate and wipe out their camp and any evidence. Gib locates and rescues Harry using the GPS device in Helen's purse. Two U.S. Marine AV-8B Harrier jets are brought in to attack Aziz's convoy as they travel the Overseas Highway and Harry is able to rescue barefoot Helen just as the limo she was in falls off the bridge which was destroyed by the Harriers, killing Juno. Aziz, however, evades capture.

Harry soon learns that Aziz has kidnapped their daughter, Dana, and with the remaining terrorists has taken over the top floor of an under-construction office building in downtown Miami. Harry commandeers a Harrier to rescue his daughter and stop them from detonating the remaining nuclear warhead, leaving Helen standing on the road barefoot and worried. Dana steals the arming key—and pursued by Aziz—climbs up onto a crane at the top of the building, while Aziz's henchmen take up the chase in a helicopter. Harry eliminates a few of the terrorists with the Harrier's Gatling gun, then ascends to pick up Dana from the rigging. Aziz follows Dana and attacks Harry while he tries to pull his daughter to safety. Aziz falls off the jet, but gets his backpack caught on an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile which Harry shoots at the terrorists' hovering helicopter, with Aziz still attached, killing them all.

A year later, the Tasker's family integrity has been restored, and it is revealed that Helen now also works for Omega Sector. Harry and Helen are called to embark on a new mission together, where they encounter "Simon" again, who is a waiter serving champagne and telling a female attendee at the event that he is actually a secret agent on a mission. Using her new skills, Helen intimidates Simon into leaving, just before a tango begins with Harry and Helen taking their places to complete their mission.



Schwarzengger stated that while filming a scene with a horse, a camera boom hit the horse and "it went crazy, spinning and rearing" near a drop of 90 feet. Schwarzenegger quickly slid off the horse and a stuntman caught him; he concluded, "[this is] why I will always love stunt people".[7]


Critical reception[edit]

Upon its release in 1994, the film garnered mostly positive reviews. Based on 47 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, True Lies has a 72% fresh rating and a weighted average of 6.5/10 with the consensus being "If it doesn't reach the heights of director James Cameron's and star Arnold Schwarzenegger's previous collaborations, True Lies still packs enough action and humor into its sometimes absurd plot to entertain".[8] Website Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean to various reviews, gave the film a 63 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

James Berardinelli from Reelviews gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, saying,

"I have yet to decide whether True Lies is a better comedy or action film. It contains heavy elements of both, and plays them equally well. Unlike such failed attempts as Hudson Hawk and Last Action Hero, however, True Lies is a big, grandiose movie that has an immense amount of fun while never taking itself too seriously... Speed and True Lies deliver a summer one-two punch that will leave viewers squirming with excitement and gasping for breath."[10]

The film earned $146 million domestically and $232.6 million abroad,[11] making it third best-grossing movie of 1994,[12] and also a comeback for Schwarzenegger following Last Action Hero the previous summer. For her performance, Jamie Lee Curtis received a 1994 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy.[13]

Despite the positive reviews, the film was criticized as sexist, cruel or even misogynistic, for its treatment of female characters, such as the hero (Schwarzenegger) using his agency's resources to stalk and frighten his wife.[14] Others perceived it as conveying a strong anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice.[15]

Of the many locations that were used in the film, the Rosecliff Mansion was used for the ballroom tango scenes in the beginning of the film and the exterior of the Swiss chalet that Harry Tasker infiltrates is the Ochre Court.[16] The ballroom dancing scene that closes the film, as well as the scenes in the lobby of the fictional Hotel Marquis in Washington, take place in the Crystal Ballroom of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.[17]

Box office[edit]

Opening in 2,368 theaters in the United States, True Lies ranked #1 in its opening weekend, earning $25,869,770. According to Box Office Mojo, the film's production costs were $115 million, which, at the time, made it one of the most costly ever.[2] True Lies was a box-office success, earning $146,282,411 in the United States and $232,600,000 in the rest of world, totaling $378,882,411 worldwide.[2]


Award Category Recipient Result
Golden Globe Award Best Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Won
BAFTA Best Special Visual Effects John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis, Pat McClung, Jamie Dixon Nominated
Saturn Award Best Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Won
Best Direction James Cameron Won
Best Special Effects Won
Best Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Tia Carrere Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Bill Paxton Nominated
Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film - Nominated
Academy Award
(The Oscars)
Best Visual Effects John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis and Patrick McClung Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated
Best Comedic Performance Tom Arnold Nominated
Best Kiss Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated
Best Dance Sequence Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tia Carrere Nominated
Best Action Sequence Bridge Explosion/Limo Rescue Nominated
Eddie Award Best Editing Conrad Buff IV, Mark Goldblatt, Richard A. Harris Nominated
Japanese Academy Awards Outstanding Foreign Language Film - Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated

Possible sequel and television series adaptation[edit]

In September 2010, multiple websites reported Cameron developing True Lies as a possible television series with Dark Angel producer René Echevarria acting as showrunner and producer.[18] In 2012, online news reports quoted Eliza Dushku as saying there would be a sequel reuniting the original cast with the writer/director James Cameron.[citation needed] Cameron originally planned to make a sequel sometime in 2002, but he put his plans on hold once the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred in New York City, saying terrorism was no longer something to be taken lightly.[19] In an interview, James Cameron stated there are no plans for a True Lies sequel, but he and Schwarzenegger had spoken about possibly working on a new project together once Schwarzenegger leaves office.[20]

In the film The Kid & I, Tom Arnold plays a fictional character based on himself. In that film, the character had starred in True Lies and is pursued by a fan and teams up with Henry Winkler and Linda Hamilton to make a sequel; Schwarzenegger and Curtis cameo as themselves. Tom Arnold jokingly commented at the Schwarzenegger campaign headquarters that a sequel to True Lies was cancelled after Arnold Schwarzenegger had won the 2003 California recall election.


True Lies
Film score by Brad Fiedel and various artists
Released July 19, 1994
Label Lightstorm/Epic Soundtrax
Track list
No. Title Length
1. "Sunshine of Your Love"    
2. "Darkness, Darkness"    
3. "Alone in the Dark"    
4. "Entity"    
5. "Sunshine of Your Love (The Adrian Sherwood & Skip McDonald Remix)"    
6. "Main Title/Harry Makes His Entrance"    
7. "Escape from the Chateau"    
8. "Harry's Sweet Home"    
9. "Harry Rides Again"    
10. "Spying on Helen"    
11. "Juno's Place"    
12. "Caught in the Act"    
13. "Shadow Lover"    
14. "Island Suite"    
15. "Causeway/Helicopter Rescue"    
16. "Nuclear Kiss"    
17. "Harry Saves the Day"    

Songs appearing in the film not included on the soundtrack:


  1. ^ "TRUE LIES (15)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. August 9, 1994. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "True Lies (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ La Totale! at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Fox, D., 1994. Movies: 'True Lies,' 'Forrest Gump' and 'The Lion King' are on target to break a record for non-holiday weekend ticket sales. Los Angeles Times, [internet] July 18. Available at [Accessed July 24, 2010].
  5. ^ Kempley, R., 1994. ‘True Lies’ (R). The Washington Post, [internet] July 15. Accessed July 24, 2010.
  6. ^ Thompson, Anne. (1994-07-29) 5 True Lies About James Cameron. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  7. ^ Schwarzenegger, Arnold. "IamArnold. AMA 2.0.". Reddit. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "True Lies". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  9. ^ lies. (2009-12-18). Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  10. ^ 1994 James Berardinelli, ''True Lies''. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  11. ^ True Lies (1994). Box Office Mojo (1994-10-18). Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  12. ^ 1994 Domestic Grosses.
  13. ^ Jamie Lee Curtis – Awards & Nominations – MSN Movies. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  14. ^ John Simon, "True Lies," National Review, August 29, 1994.
  15. ^ Charles Glass, "A prejudice as American as apple pie," New Statesman, November 20, 1998.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "James Cameron Adapting 'True Lies' For TV". 2010-09-13. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  19. ^ "Sequel talk true or lies?". 
  20. ^ "Cameron Doubtful for TL2 but Hopeful for Another! Tom Arnold Claims Another Project with "Lies" Team!". 2009-05-08. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 

External links[edit]