Arnold Schwarzenegger at his ultimate action movie peak in Last Action Hero (1993).
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the King of Action Cinema. From portraying the titular character in The Terminator to fighting the devil in End of Days 15 years later, Arnie can kick ass be it electronic or biblical.
In 1993, however, shortly after his prime, the Austrian Oak poked fun at both himself AND the action genre as fictional character Jack Slater in Last Action Hero – John McTiernan’s best film after Predator and Die Hard. Loner and fanboy Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) acts as the viewpoint for many an action fan, who enters the world of Jack Slater via a Houdini-endorsed cinema ticket.
Often forgotten and overlooked, here are the 7 reasons why Last Action Hero is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most ultimate action movie achievement!
1) It’s an Action Film About Action Films
Films about films are great – the Academy award them and we love them. But what about an action film about action films?! Stripping down to the basics, that’s what Last Action Hero essentially is, and for that it’s great. In the same year as National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 as well as Hot Shots! Part Deux, both films are respectively satirical, but it is Last Action Hero that is the action film fan’s action film.
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2) The Ultimate Cameos
Crossover time! In this film about film, additional to the name-dropping of selected films, infamous characters appear also. In true police station fashion – displaying a crazy and curious characters, on entrance with Jack, Danny notices both Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick, as Catherine Tramell and T-1000 respectively. But there’s more! In the real world, at the premiere of Jack Slater IV, the likes of Van Damme, Jim Belushi and Chevy Chase appear also.
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3) Sylvester Stallone in Terminator 2!
Having seen the Rambo III poster laughed off in Twins, what could be next? A standee of Terminator 2 with SYLVESTER STALLONE as the star. “He’s fantastic. It’s his best performance ever.” insists Jack Slater, but Danny’s reaction and the camera’s tilt-up of the poster for the big reveal is all too hilarious.
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4) How it Humanizes Heroes
Our heroes are superhuman, larger than life, relentless and unstoppable. When Jack Slater – Danny’s hero – enters the real world, he is almost powerless. Not only can he now feel pain, but the way in which McTiernan captures the action changes, therefore ‘normalising’ and even simplifying Jack’s action. Seeing the ultimate action character close to being powerless and close to death, it serves as a reminder that heroes are ultimately human.
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5) The Ultimate One-liners
Somewhat ironically, Last Action Hero is the total package of Arnie one-liners, yet doesn’t feature his top two or three most famous. Hilariously, Arnie delivers the goods not only in the world of Jack Slater, but in the real world and the Hamlet imagined by young Danny. The best from each ‘world’: “Hey, you want to be a farmer? Here’s a couple of acres!” (Jack Slater III); “No sequel for you.” (real world); and “You killed my father – BIG MISTAKE!” (Danny’s Hamlet).
6) A Self-parody of its own Genre
As seen in many Arnie films leading up to Last Action Hero, there is a tongue-in-cheek element within many of his actions and one-liners – especially those. Because of this, the big man has no problem mimicking both himself and the action genre. From performing front flips across rooftops to offloading an obscene amount of weaponry on his persons, Arnie and Richard Donner clearly had a lot of fun with self-parody and self-awareness.
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7) The Ice Cream Death Scene
Most of Arnie’s films featured wild deaths – chainsaw, drill, steampipe, but…what about ice cream? Imagine being killed by an ice cream cone?! The embarrassment! Remember Endo in Lethal Weapon and Uli in Die Hard (both played by action henchman Al Leong)? Surprise, he’s a low-level baddie again, but from being choked-out by Riggs, Leong’s fate in Last Action Hero entails an ice cream cone firing into the back of his skull after the explosion of an ice cream… “Iced that guy.. To cone a phrase!”
Article by Dom “I Watched an Action Movie on my Wedding Night” Hastings, check out his personal blog DomonFilm here.
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