True Lies

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
True-lies-poster1 4171.jpg

Helen: Have you ever killed anyone?
Harry: Yeah, but they were all bad.

A 1994 action comedy (bordering on parody) featuring (of course) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Eliza Dushku as their daughter, Tia Carrere as the Femme Fatale, Bill Paxton as a fake spy, and Tom Arnold as Arnold's sidekick. Directed by James Cameron, meaning there are some sweet explosions. While it's hardly high art, it's good popcorn fun, mostly because it can't really decide whether it's trying to be an action movie or a parody of same, and so does both pretty darn well.

Arnold plays Harry Tasker, who his wife thinks is a mild-mannered computer salesman. Helen, played by Curtis, resents the long business trips he takes, which make it hard for him to keep his appointments with the family. While Harry is tracking a dangerous terrorist, he learns Helen has been seeing someone on the side--a used car salesman pretending to be a spy.

He uses his agency's resources to teach the other man a lesson--and give his wife some adventure--but when a harmless "assignment" he sends Helen on is interrupted by those dangerous terrorists, she finally finds out what he's really been doing on those business trips.

Talks of a sequel were put on hold after September 11th, but at the moment[when?], Cameron and Schwarzenegger are both of the opinion that it should be their first film after Arnold finishes his tenure as Governor of California. Alternately, Cameron is rumored to be adapting it for television.

Based upon the 1991 French movie "La Totale" by Claude Zidi, from which it kept most of the plot, transported it to the USA, and ran it in typical Hollywood style which, honestly, tends to work pretty well for action comedy.


Tropes used in True Lies include:

"Y'know what? ...I'm sick of being the one in the van. You guys are gonna be in the van next time."

  • Mood Whiplash: One of the best comedic moments in the film is probably the "Battery, Aziz" scene - Aziz is making an angry and frightening threat video, when the camcorder runs low on battery. The cameraman lowers the camera, looks pained and apologetic, and explains "battery, Aziz!" Aziz stares at him dumbfounded and coolly rages "...get another one, you moron!" Aziz gives him the "shh!" effect when he tries to apologize further and explain how quickly he can start filming again.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jamie Lee Curtis, Full. Fucking. Stop.
    • Seriously, if Ms. Curtis doesn't have a copy of this scene in her possession for "Sexy? No, this is sexy!" claim-making purposes, it's a travesty of justice.
    • Also Tia Carrere and her fantastic cleavage and legs.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Crimson Jihad. Also their leader, the "Sand Spider"; When one character asks why he's called that, another responds "Probably because it sounds scary."
  • Neck Snap
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry has to do this several times, but it borders on ridiculous when he calls a nuclear warhead an espresso machine, just to keep his (obviously blown) cover in front of his wife. To be fair, he was probably also doing it to annoy his captor.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: The Janitor doesn't notice the jet flying around outside until it crashes into the window.
  • Oh Crap: Juno says "oh, SHIT!" when she realizes the limo is about to fall into the ocean after the bridge has been shot out.
    • Not to mention the Mook who is looking out of the window with a pair of binoculars looking for Harry's Harry-er jump jet: nothing...nothing...nothing...hey there's a grey thing blocking my vis...FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.
    • Then there was the much-abused terrorist panel truck balanced on the edge of the broken bridge. They balance it out and start celebrating ... then a pelican lands on the hood of the truck.
  • Only in It For the Money: Juno Skinner states that she's only aiding the terrorists because they're paying her an enormous amount of money for her assistance in their scheme, as she cares for neither their goals nor those of Harry's team.
  • Papa Wolf: When his little girl is kidnapped, Harry borrows the aforementioned Harrier Jet to rescue her and face the Big Bad.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: The above conversation pretty much sums up the trope.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Harry does this with the grenade he uses as the opening shot of a huge firefight at the enemy's hideout after escaping from being captured.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: It's a Schwarzenegger film, what'd you expect?
  • Pretty in Mink: In the background of a few scenes.
  • Precision F-Strike: "I was reckless and I was wild, and I fucking did it!"
  • Product Placement: Canon camera with a gun in it.
  • Prove I Am Not Bluffing: The Crimson Jihad set off one of their nukes in the Florida Keys as a demonstration.
  • Rated "M" for Manly: The last hour of the film.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The idea of anyone being unharmed when someone tries to shoot them with a machine gun, at a distance of about 10 paces with basically no cover, is very implausible. Make the target Tom Arnold, though, and make him rely on a street lamp post for cover, and who cares how plausible it is?
  • Rip Tailoring: Helen rips off the frilly sleeves of her dress, and shortens it considerably, when preparing to meet a suspected arms dealer.
  • Rule of Cool: Multiple examples, but one that particularly stands out is when Harry is being chased down a hill through trees by guys on skis firing guns (that are held with both hands). While Harry manages to shoot most of them with his Improbable Aiming Skills, they rarely run into anything. However, there is a snowmobile crash, which causes an explosion.
  • Rule of Funny: The above-mentioned incident where Gib hides behind a lamppost and the bullets hit the lamppost, but not him (he checks to make he's completely intact). And several other moments, including the Improbable Aiming Skills moment with the gun bouncing down the stairs.
  • Sarcastic Confession: See Truth Serum exchange below.
  • Searching the Stalls: Tasker hides from a gun-wielding terrorist inside a bathroom stall. The terrorist hoses down the stalls with his machine gun, and begins opening each stall. Before he gets to Tasker's hiding place, Tasker bursts out of his stall and escape
  • Shout-Out: When Harry's disguised voice identifies Helen's contact as "Boris" and starts to identify her, she pipes up, "Natasha?"
  • Shur Fine Guns: The Accidental Aiming Skills scene.
  • Slap Slap Kiss
  • Slipped the Ropes: Harry does this in the interrogation scene, right after telling his interrogator how he's going to kill him.

Harry: "You know my handcuffs?"
Samir: "Mmm-hmm."
Harry: *holds up his hands* "I picked them." *proceeds to do exactly what he just said he would*

  • Soft Glass: Several scenes feature this trope, but the best one is when Harry insists that Gibs hand him the missing page of the transcript, and shatters the car window with his bare fist. (Funny story: Ahnold was actually supposed to break a different window, which had been replaced with safety glass. Adds a bit of weight to the look on Tom Arnold's face, when he sees that his co-star just broke a real car window with his bare fist.)
  • Spy's Suspicious Spouse: Inverted as Harry is the one suspecting his spouse of cheating, while Helen completely believes Harry's cover stories for being gone all the time and never suspects anything odd about it, only frustration that he is gone all the time.
  • Stealth Parody: It's closer to an Affectionate Parody as it gently pokes fun at the excesses of 80's and 90's action flicks while indulging in those excesses itself.
  • Stealth Pun: Probably unintentional, but the song that is used for the tango scenes, "Por una Cabeza", was about a compulsive horse racing gambler and how he compares his addiction to horses with his attraction to women. Not long after that, we have the horse/motorcycle chase.
  • Surprise Vehicle: That Harrier jet again.
  • Tagline: "When he said "I do", he never said what he did."
  • The Deadliest Mushroom
  • This Is Sparta!: "NO! I DID (slam) NOT (slam) SLEEP (slam) WITH HIM!!! (slam slam)"
  • Throw-Away Guns: After the horseback chase, Harry ends up tossing away his sidearm. Off the top of a building.
  • Throw It In: Word of God says that Curtis's slip and fall during the stripper dance wasn't scripted, and you can even see Arnold jumping out of the chair to see if she's alright. She instead jumped right back up and continued the dance, with Arnold sitting back down quickly. Luckily, all of this is perfectly in character (Harry would obviously be concerned about his wife, and then hastily attempt to maintain The Masquerade when the show goes on) and it ends up as one of the funniest scenes of the movie.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Helen gets very close to it when the terrorists kidnap her and Harry. (And almost drags her daughter to death with her idiocy, as well.)
  • Triang Relations
  • Trailers Always Lie: The original trailer showed Jamie Lee Curtis in an interrogation chamber being grilled about her husband. Her interrogator is her husband, and he's more interested in whether she's cheating on him.
  • Truth Serum: Leading to the page quote, not to mention...

Harry: Ask me something I would normally lie about.
Helen: ...Are they going to kill us?
Harry: Yep!

    • Also:

Harry: First I'm gonna use you as a human shield, then I'm gonna kill this guard over there, with the Patterson trocar on the table. Then I was thinking about breaking your neck.
Samir: And how are you going to do all that?
Harry: You know my handcuffs?
Samir: Hmm?
Harry: I picked them.
(Samir gives an "Ah, Fuck" look and gasps in horror.)
(Harry proceeds to do exactly what he had just said.)