Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Dance, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Noonan
Running Time: 2hr 10min
Danny Madigan is a young boy living with his single mom in a run-down part of New York City. He regularly bunks off school to visit an ancient but gorgeous movie theater owned by projectionist Nick (who he befriends). Danny spends most of his time watching action movies, in particular, those starring Jack Slater, his hero. One day Nickl tells Danny that he has the print for Jack Slater IV, and asks if he wants to see it early. When Danny arrives at the theater, Nick gives him a golden ticket once belonging to Houdini, and the ticket winds up being magic, sucking Danny into the film!
While in the movie, Danny has to team up with Jack Salter to try to bring down the criminals of a fictionalized Los Angeles, while also trying to convince the indestructible titular cop that he is trapped in a movie. Despite being skeptical about his claims, Slater reluctantly allows Danny to be his partner, and their investigation leads them to the home of Tony Vivaldi. His henchman Benedict, kills Vivaldi, takes power, and tries to assassinate Slater, stealing Danny’s ticket in the process.
Benedict disappears into the real world, where he discovers villains often triumph, and resolves to kill Slater by killing the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and taking over reality. Benedict calls Slater’s nemesis The Ripper out of the movie world, and this leads to a stand-off. Slater saves Danny and kills The Ripper, then takes out Benedict, but not before being mortally wounded, as he is vulnerable in the real world. Danny tries to get him back into the movie, but can’t until Death arrives and tells him to check for the other half of the ticket. Danny finds it and helps Slater back into the movie, where he immediately recovers. Danny watches in glee as Slater embraces the nature of his existence.
One of the most criminally underrated movies of the 1990s was John McTiernan’s often misunderstood action meta romp Last Action Hero. The movie plays as a simultaneous indictment and appraisal of action movies, and, in particular, its star Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is why the movie works so well, but also why it is so often maligned by critics and audiences. In many ways, this was a film too far ahead of its time to be embraced as the spectacle it undoubtedly is.
Chock full of terrible (awesome) puns, lame gags, fantastical action set pieces, and Charles Dance’s pantomime villain, Last Action Hero had all the makings of a spectacular summer blockbuster on its release in 1993. But, the film wound up being a huge flop and almost derailed Arnie’s career. A metaphysical, metafictional, action blockbuster was probably not what the world needed in 1993, and this went over many people’s heads – yet you could see what they were trying to do with it.
Yes, the plot might be flim-flam, and some of the elements of the movie are pure Camembert, but it has heart. The movie has a big, fun, beating heart, and shows a genuine love of the ridiculous action films that made stars of the likes of Arnie. If you can go into it with an open mind, not take it too seriously, and try to view it as a genre piece, we have no doubt you’ll dig this flick just as much as we do.