True Lies

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This article is about the film. For the video game, see True Lies (video game). For the album, see True Lies (album).
True Lies
True Lies poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by
Screenplay by James Cameron
Story by
Based on La Totale!
by Claude Zidi
Simon Michaël
Didier Kaminka
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Edited by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • July 15, 1994 (1994-07-15)
Running time
141 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100–120 million
Box office $378.8 million[2]

True Lies is a 1994 American action comedy film written and directed by James Cameron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Art Malik, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov and Charlton Heston. It is a loose remake of the 1991 French comedy film La Totale!.[3] The film follows U.S. government agent Harry Tasker, who balances 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, performing covert missions for the U.S government under a counter-terrorism task force called "The Omega Sector". Agents Albert "Gib" Gibson and Faisal assist him in these missions under the command of Spencer Trilby. However, Harry's wife, Helen, and his daughter, Dana, believe he is a boring computer salesman who does a lot of "corporate" travel. Harry's latest mission in Switzerland reveals the existence of a terrorist 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 attacked by Aziz and his men, and then loses him in a pursuit, meanwhile missing the birthday party that his wife and daughter have arranged for him.

Harry heads to Helen's office the next day to surprise her for lunch, but overhears her talking to a man named Simon. He uses his connections in Omega Sector to learn that Simon is a used car salesman, pretending to be a covert agent to flirt with Helen. Harry and other Omega agents, disguised, kidnap Helen while she is at Simon's trailer and then frighten Simon into staying away from her. Harry, using a voice masking device, 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 seduce a mysterious figure in his hotel room (in actuality, Harry himself, who hopes to surprise Helen) and plant a tracking bug on him. Yet it nearly goes wrong when suddenly, Aziz's men burst in, kidnap the couple, and take them to an island in the Florida Keys.

Aziz reveals he possesses small nuclear warheads hidden inside 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 then orders the couple to be tortured; Harry (under a truth serum) reveals his double life to Helen, and then they escape to watch as Aziz has the warheads loaded onto vehicles, and prepares one of them to detonate on the island in ninety minutes. Harry leaves Helen to hide as he attacks Aziz's men, but Helen is captured by Juno and taken with the convoy on the Overseas Highway. Harry is rescued by Omega agents and pursues the convoy, sending two Harrier Jump Jets to stop it and destroy part of the bridge. Harry rescues Helen from Juno's limo before it falls over the destroyed section, and then return to the mainland before the first bomb goes off.

They quickly learn that Aziz and his men have taken control of a downtown Miami skyscraper via helicopter and have kidnapped Dana, threatening to detonate the remaining bomb. Harry takes one of the jets to reach the skyscraper quickly. Faisal poses as part of a requested camera crew for Aziz to make his demands, providing enough distraction for Dana to steal the ignition key and flee the room. Aziz chases Dana onto a tower crane where Harry arrives. Harry is able to rescue Dana while he and Aziz struggle in the cockpit. Aziz eventually becomes ensnared on the end of one of the plane's missiles, which Harry fires at the passing terrorist helicopter — destroying it and the remaining bomb on board. Harry, Helen, and Dana are then safely reunited.

A year later, the Tasker's family integrity has been restored, and it is revealed that Helen has become another Omega Sector agent. Harry and Helen are called to 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 the Tango in celebration.



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 pals) caught him; he concluded, "[this is] why I will always love stunt people".[4] Costing $100[5][6]–120[3][7] million to produce, True Lies was the first film with a production budget of over $100 million.[8] It was filmed over a seven-month schedule.[3]

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.[9] 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.[10]


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% approval rating and a weighted average of 6.5/10; the 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".[11] Website Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean to various reviews, gave the film a 63 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12]

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.[13] Members of the Muslim community perceived it as conveying a strong anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice.[14][15][16]

In a negative review, Kenneth Turan of the New York Times wrote "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.[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. 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] making it third best-grossing movie of 1994.[18]


For her performance, Jamie Lee Curtis received a 1994 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] 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 left office.[22]

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 won the 2003 California recall election.


True Lies
True Lies (album).jpg
Film score by Brad Fiedel and various artists
Released July 19, 1994
Length 70:35
Label Lightstorm/Epic Soundtrax
Track list
No. Title Music Length
1. "Sunshine of Your Love"   Living Colour 5:17
2. "Darkness, Darkness"   Screaming Trees 4:08
3. "Alone in the Dark"   John Hiatt 4:46
4. "Entity"   Mother Tongue 4:21
5. "Sunshine of Your Love (The Adrian Sherwood & Skip McDonald Remix)"   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
11. "Juno's Place"     1:29
12. "Caught in the Act"     1:29
13. "Shadow Lover"     1:20
14. "Island Suite"     6:55
15. "Causeway/Helicopter Rescue"     7:56
16. "Nuclear Kiss"     0:51
17. "Harry Saves the Day"     8:26
Total length:

Songs appearing in the film not included on the soundtrack album:


  1. ^ "TRUE LIES (15)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. August 9, 1994. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "True Lies (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Schwarzenegger Heats Up the Summer with Action-Packed True Lies". Electronic Gaming Monthly (61). EGM Media, LLC. August 1994. p. 169. 
  4. ^ Schwarzenegger, Arnold. "IamArnold. AMA 2.0.". Reddit. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  5. ^ 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].
  6. ^ Kempley, R., 1994. ‘True Lies’ (R). The Washington Post, [internet] July 15. Accessed July 24, 2010.
  7. ^ Thompson, Anne. (1994-07-29) 5 True Lies About James Cameron. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  8. ^ "First film with a $100 million budget". Guinness World Records. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Movies Filmed in Newport RI - Hollywood loves the "City by the Sea"!". 
  10. ^ "Filming in Los Angeles - Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles Filming History - Filming in LA". 
  11. ^ "True Lies". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  12. ^ lies. (2009-12-18). Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  13. ^ John Simon, "True Lies," National Review, August 29, 1994.
  14. ^ Names & Faces: "Muslims Protest Schwarzenegger's 'True Lies'" July 22, 1994 By New York Daily News, via Orlando Sentinel.
  15. ^ "Arab-Americans Protest 'True Lies'" Published July 16, 1994, The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Muslim leader wants 'True Lies' banned" Monday, September 26, 1994. The Gainesville Sun, page 3.
  17. ^ Turan, Kenneth (July 14, 1994). ""True Lies" is able to effectively kid itself"". NEw York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  18. ^ 1994 Domestic Grosses.
  19. ^ Jamie Lee Curtis – Awards & Nominations – MSN Movies. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  20. ^ "James Cameron Adapting 'True Lies' For TV". 2010-09-13. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  21. ^ "Sequel talk true or lies?". 
  22. ^ "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]