Eraser


"Who do you think we are? We're not the Red Cross. We make weapons, things that kill people."   - Donahue


release year: 1996
genre: action/adventure
viewing setting: home DVD, 2/10/15 and 11/4/12 and 5/13/07 and 1/13/98 and theater, summer 1996

synopsis: A star U.S. Marshal (actually, Witness Protection) agent must protect a young woman who has stumbled across a government-backed superweapon arms deal with the Russian mafia.

impressions: This movie has a lot of great elements: espionage, treachery, gunfights, skydiving, super-guns that can shoot through anything, and giant alligators! The female lead turns out to be fairly smart and quick on her feet. The main villain is efficient, ruthless, and has some great lines. There are several elements you'd expect in a classic Arnold movie, including him stabbing a guy through a door, driving a towtruck through a gate, coming up with an outrageous plan, getting a chunk of metal shrapnel stuck in his leg and having to pull it out, bursting up through a floor, and getting shot before his final hand-to-hand fight with the main bad guy. This movie also ultimately obeys what I call the "Arnold Schwarzenegger big gun rule" : whatever the biggest and most powerful weapon is, at some point in the movie Arnold will acquire it and use it to blast the hell out of someone/something. Overall, this is a solid action/spy type of movie, and never really slows down.

body count: 56 people, 1 alligator

things to watch for: A rather long chase through a building, some traffic, a hotel, and ultimately, toward a rooftop.

something this movie has that no other movie has: Multiple giant alligators on the loose.

acting: Arnold turns in a better-than-average performance as the Eraser, while James Caan is an excellent bad guy. Vanessa Williams also does well, showing general competency in stressful situations.

secondary actors: This movie is like a "who's who" of people you might have seen in other movies, but usually not in a big role. An older, bearded James Coburn, star of many action movies in the 1960s and 1970s, is the head of the protection service. Robert Pastorelli is an Italian guy who owes Eraser a favor and ends up helping him later. James Cromwell, who's played everyone from George Bush the first to the chief administrator in "The Thing", is the head of the company making the super-guns. Andy Romano, who among other roles was Admiral Bates in the "Under Siege" movies, is an evil politician here. Mark Rolston, who was smartgun-operating Colonial Marine Drake in "Aliens", is an assassin here. Tony Longo, a hulking actor who was in the 1980s football comedy show "First and Ten", is a hulking henchman here. K Todd Freeman, who was one of the semi-incompetent hitmen in "Grosse Point Blank", is a government agent here. Brian Libby, who was the creepy silent regenerating psychotic killer in "Silent Rage", is a bad-guy sentry here. I'm telling you, this movie would be a key part of any "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" movie trivia game.

final word: Solid action movie, and Arnold's return to glory in the 1990s.

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