Episode 90: True Lies (1994)

Harry? You do not have time to tango, buddy. You copy? We’re joined by a very special guest – actor/producer/Propaganda Minister of the Sovereign Nation of Val Verde Duncan Casey – for a look at James Cameron’s megabucks 1994 espionage smash hit True Lies.

Dissatisfied housewife Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) can’t understand why her boring computer salesman husband Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is so wrapped up in his work that he neglects her and their moody teen daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku) to the extent that she even considers an affair with a skeevy used car salesman masquerading as a secret agent (Bill Paxton). What she doesn’t know, is that Harry is indeed a REAL secret agent – and when he discovers Helen’s flirtations, he sidetracks himself from an international terrorism investigation to embroil her in a plot to spice up their stale marriage. Typically Cameronian carnage ensues as fighter jets, nuclear detonations, motorcycle vs. horse hotel lobby chases and much more are deployed by cinema’s premier spectacle maker.

Fresh off the hugely successful Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the writer/director had the industry at his feet – and chose to adapt a little-known French spy comedy for his next project. While a huge hit upon release, the film has sunk from view somewhat in the years since, considering its pedigree and one-time prominence. Gali, Devlin, Patrick and Duncan look back at their recollections of the film upon release, and discuss how it now stacks up against the genre as a whole – in terms of its then-cutting edge action, and in its representations of marriage, gender politics, and race. Did the film sit up and make us beg for buttermilk, or has it left us shivering by the side of the road soaked in our own pee? 

Be sure to track down more of Duncan at the fantastic YouTube movie review channel Val Verde Broadcasting, and check out some of his film appearances right here!

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