Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Cameron|
|Screenplay by||James Cameron|
|Based on||La Totale!|
by Claude Zidi
|Music by||Brad Fiedel|
|Box office||$378.9 million|
True Lies is a 1994 American action comedy film written, directed and co-produced by James Cameron and executive produced by Lawrence Kasanoff. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Art Malik, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov and Charlton Heston. It is based on the 1991 French comedy film La Totale! The film follows U.S. government agent Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), who struggles to balance his life as a spy with his familial duties.
True Lies was the first Lightstorm Entertainment project to be distributed under Cameron's multimillion-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.
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 ultimately grossed $378 million worldwide at the box-office and was also nominated at the Academy Awards and BAFTAs in the Best Visual Effect category, and also for seven Saturn Awards.
Harry Tasker leads a double life: to his wife Helen and his daughter Dana, he is a boring computer salesman often away on business trips; but he is, in fact, a secret agent for a United States intelligence agency named Omega Sector. Harry, operating alongside fellow agents Albert "Gib" Gibson and Faisil, infiltrates the party of suspected arms dealer and terrorist financier Jamal Khaled in Switzerland. Stealing Jamal's financial records, Harry and his team learn that American antiques dealer Juno Skinner recently received a suspicious payment from Jamal. Harry visits her office undercover posing as a corporate art consultant. Workmen at Juno's business are actually members of a terrorist group known as "Crimson Jihad", led by Salim Abu Aziz. Suspicious, Aziz and two of his men follow Harry and attempt to kill him. Harry slays the others but loses Aziz in a pursuit. As a result, Harry misses his birthday party that his wife and daughter have prepared for him and that he had promised to attend.
Harry heads to Helen's office the next day to surprise her for lunch, but overhears her talking on the phone to a man named Simon. Fearing that Helen is having an affair, Harry uses Omega Sector resources to learn that Simon is a used car salesman, who pretends to be a covert agent to seduce women. Harry and other Omega agents, disguised, kidnap Helen and intimidate Simon into staying away from her. Using a voice changer, Harry interrogates Helen and learns that, due to his constant absence, she is desperately seeking adventure. Harry thus arranges for Helen to participate in a staged spy mission, where she is to plant a covert listening device in the hotel suite of a mysterious figure (who is actually Harry himself). Aziz's men suddenly burst in, kidnap the couple, and take them to an island in the Florida Keys.
Aziz reveals he has smuggled stolen MIRV nuclear warheads into the country via antique statues shipped by Juno and threatens to detonate them in major U.S. cities unless the U.S. military leaves the Persian Gulf. He also plants one of the warheads on the island, intending to have it detonate after they leave to show the government his seriousness. Aziz orders the couple to be tortured, and Harry (under a truth serum) finally confesses his double life to Helen. They escape to watch as the three remaining warheads are loaded onto two trucks and a helicopter. Harry leaves Helen to attack Aziz's men, but Helen is captured by Juno and taken in her limo which is following the two trucks on the Overseas Highway. Harry is rescued by Omega agents and pursues the convoy, sending two Marine Harrier Jump Jets to stop it by destroying part of the Seven Mile Bridge. Helen and Juno fight for a gun in the limo and the driver is shot and killed. Hanging from a helicopter, Harry rescues Helen through the limo's sunroof as Juno curses her luck as the limo falls off the damaged bridge and into the sea.
Upon returning safely to the mainland, the warhead left on the island detonates for the public to see. Harry then learns that Aziz and his men have taken control of a skyscraper under construction in downtown Miami and have kidnapped Dana, threatening to detonate their one remaining bomb. Harry commandeers one of the Harriers to rescue his daughter. Faisal poses as part of a news team requested by Aziz, providing enough distraction for Dana to steal the bomb control key and flee the room. Aziz chases Dana onto a tower crane as Harry arrives. Faisal guns down a few terrorists on one floor of the building, and Harry uses the Harrier's machine guns to kill the others on the floor below. Harry is able to coax Dana from the tower crane to the nose of the Harrier. Aziz jumps to the fuselage of the Harrier and attacks Harry. After a tense struggle, Harry eventually has Aziz ensnared on the end of one of the plane's missiles, which Harry fires at the terrorists' helicopter, killing Aziz and the remnants of his terrorist gang.
A year later, the Tasker family are happily reunited and Helen has become another Omega Sector agent. Harry and Helen embark on a new mission together at a formal party, where they encounter Simon seducing one of the female guests. Helen and Harry intimidate Simon into fleeing, and the film ends with the couple dancing a passionate tango.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Harry Tasker / Harry Rehnquist
- Jamie Lee Curtis as Helen Tasker
- Tom Arnold as Albert 'Gib' Gibson
- Art Malik as Salim Abu Aziz
- Bill Paxton as Simon
- Tia Carrere as Juno Skinner
- Eliza Dushku as Dana Tasker
- Grant Heslov as Faisil
- Charlton Heston as Director Spencer Trilby
- Marshall Manesh as Jamal Khaled
- James Allen as Colonel
- Ofer Samra as Yusef
Schwarzenegger 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 stuntman Billy D. Lucas (who was one of Arnold's main doubles and closest friends) caught him; he concluded, "[this is] why I will always love stunt people". Costing $100–120 million to produce, True Lies was the first film with a production budget of over $100 million. It was filmed over a seven-month schedule.
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 Ochre Court. 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. The outdoor structures used by Azis's smuggling ring as a base of operations were a series of custom made Alaska Structures fabric buildings, leased to the production crew during filming.
Opening in 2,368 theaters in the United States, True Lies ranked #1 in its opening weekend, earning $25,869,770. 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, making it third best-grossing movie of 1994.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 70% based on 50 reviews, and an average rating of 6.5/10. The website's consensus states, "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". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Despite the positive reviews, the film was criticized by the National Review 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. Some Muslims perceived the film as conveying a strong anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice.
Taken individually, the cruder and childish things about this film, its determination to use caricatured unshaven Arabs as terrorists, the pleasure it takes in continually mortifying a weasely used-car salesman (Bill Paxton) in the most personal ways, might be overlooked, but added together they leave a sour taste.
True Lies was released on VHS and Laserdisc after its theatrical release, and on DVD on May 25, 1999. A high definition version was released on D-Theater in 2003. In 2018, James Cameron stated that a new transfer for Blu-ray has been completed, but he hasn't found time to review it.
In April 1997, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Arnold met with Cameron and discussed the possibility of an eventual True Lies sequel, which would also bring back Curtis in her role. At the time, Cameron was busy working on Titanic. Following the release of Titanic in late 1997, Cameron was planning to begin work on a True Lies sequel early the following year. Schwarzenegger and Arnold were expected to reprise their roles. Cameron conducted a search for a writer to work on True Lies 2. In August 1999, Cameron and 20th Century Fox were negotiating to have Jeff Eastin write the script under Cameron's supervision. At the time, the film was being planned for a mid-2001 release, with Cameron expected to direct it. By the end of 1999, there was the possibility that filming would begin in the third quarter of 2000. However, development of the script was ongoing as of June 2000. Cameron planned to produce True Lies 2 with Fox, but was undecided at that time on whether he would also direct it, as he wanted to wait until the script was complete. Eastin worked with Cameron on the project for approximately a year and a half, and Schwarzenegger and Arnold liked Eastin's script.
By March 2001, the script had been completed, and Curtis was confirmed to reprise her role alongside Schwarzenegger and Arnold. Following the September 11 attacks, Schwarzenegger said in January 2002, "We'll shoot it next year. We have a good script. There does need to be some changes because it deals with some terrorist act of some sort. But it's pretty much done." Later in 2002, Cameron said the film would not be made following the September 11 attacks: "Terrorism is no longer something to take as lightly as we did in the first one. I just can't see it happening given the current world climate."
In June 2003, Schwarzenegger said that after the attacks, "Cameron was worried because there's an airplane scene – a terrific airplane scene – that didn't have anything to do with the terrorism that we had in 9/11, but it was a great fight scene inside the plane while the plane goes down and this kind of thing. It was a very important moment in the movie, and he felt like he can't do that and therefore has to rewrite it ... These things take a long time." The following month, Curtis said the film would never be made due to the September 11 attacks: "Terrorists aren't funny anymore. They never were, but, it was distant enough from our psyche that we could make it funny. It'll never be funny again. I just think that that is over, that kind of humor is over." Eastin cited Schwarzenegger's 2003 election as California governor as another reason that True Lies 2 did not get made. However, Arnold remained optimistic that the film would be made.
In 2005, Arnold said he had met with Cameron, Curtis, Paxton, and Dushku to discuss True Lies 2. Arnold said the project would include the return of Schwarzenegger and that filming would begin once his role as California governor was concluded. Cameron said in 2009 that there were no plans to make the film, and Curtis, in 2019, reiterated her previous comments: "I don't think we could ever do another 'True Lies' after 9/11."
In the 2005 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.
In other media
|Film score by |
Brad Fiedel and various artists
|Released||July 19, 1994|
All music is composed by Brad Fiedel, except where noted.
|1.||"Sunshine of Your Love"||Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton||Living Colour||5:17|
|2.||"Darkness, Darkness"||Jesse Colin Young||Screaming Trees||4:08|
|3.||"Alone in the Dark"||John Hiatt||John Hiatt||4:46|
|4.||"Entity"||Christian Leibfried, Geoff Haba, Bryan Tulao, David Robert Gould||Mother Tongue||4:21|
|5.||"Sunshine of Your Love (The Adrian Sherwood & Skip McDonald Remix)"||Bruce, Clapton||Living Colour||5:49|
|6.||"Main Title/Harry Makes His Entrance"||2:40|
|7.||"Escape from the Chateau"||2:41|
|8.||"Harry's Sweet Home"||1:06|
|9.||"Harry Rides Again"||7:05|
|10.||"Spying on Helen"||4:16|
|12.||"Caught in the Act"||1:29|
|17.||"Harry Saves the Day"||8:26|
Songs appearing in the film not included on the soundtrack album:
- "I Never Thought I'd See the Day" – Sade
- "More Than a Woman" – Bee Gees
- "The Blue Danube" – The Philadelphia Orchestra
- "Por una Cabeza" – Argentinean tango, performed by The Tango Project
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James Cameron's dual Mars projects will touch down as a Fox miniseries and in IMAX 3-D in the spring of 2001, just months before the planned release of "True Lies 2," which Cameron is now telling friends he will direct.
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To tell you the truth, I kind of lost my appetite for it ("True Lies 2") after Sept. 11
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