Last Action Hero

A magic movie ticket gains a young fan unprecedented access to his favorite action hero after being sucked out of his seat and onto the big screen.

Year: 1993
Certificate: 15
Director: John McTiernan
Starring: Art Carney, Charles Dance, John McTiernan, Austin O’Brien, Anthony Quinn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Noonan, Joan Plowright, Robert Prosky, Mercedes Ruehl, Tina Turner, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Frank McRae, Ian McKellen, Austin O’Brien

Information Page:

The best genre parodies function both as jokey pastiche and as worthwhile and engaging examples of the films being lampooned. So when I say that 90s action comedy “Last Action Hero” isn’t in the least bit thrilling and musters only a scatter of laughs… well, that’s not a great sign. Director John McTiernan (“Die Hard”, “Predator”), writer Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) and, of course, star Arnold Schwarzenegger are all action movie royalty and their ambitions were lofty: to deconstruct the macho action movie.

Young cinephile, Danny (Austin O’Brien), loves the (fake) Schwarzenegger-starring Jack Slater films. When Danny‘s buddy and cinema projectionist, Nick, gets a print of Jack Slater IV ahead of release, Danny is thrilled to be given a (physical) “magic” ticket stub and invited to watch it. However, Nick’s gift starts to weaken the barrier of the screen and Danny ends up sucked into the movie… in the back seat of Slater’s convertible during a car chase.

Rather than simply playing out the preordained narrative of the film with the addition of Danny‘s sidekick, Black and co-writer David Arnott avoid that fun – and, most importantly, simple – idea to instead explore a strange generalised movie world. When Slater and Danny report to the LAPD headquarters, it’s not the police hub of the Jack Slater films, it’s the base for all filmic LA police action, complete with black and white Humphrey Bogart and an animated cat detective.

This allows for some fun cameos and gags, but the logic and rules of this world are never clear. The film suffers as a result, and the intentionally flat characters never generate enough goodwill to let this inconsistency slide. Some of the laughs do hit, however, but out of sheer weirdness more than anything else.

As for the action, the huge budget is pumped into equally huge set pieces. But bigger isn’t always better and these sequences lack the character beats that set the best action scenes apart. These type of over-the-top action scenes would go on to inspire parodies like the far more enjoyable “What if Michael Bay directed…” trailer edits, but two minutes feels just the right length for this kind of joke, not 130.

Though, if “Last Action Hero” proves anything, it’s that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a self-deprecating and intelligent action star. Once the embodiment of ice cool European sternness, it wasn’t long until Arnie started to send up that initial stereotype and McTiernan challenges him again here, but he’s up to the task.

“Last Action Hero” deserves credit for being inventive, and the film does display a sincere love for the silver screen, but it’s a messy version of what is undoubtedly a promising central idea.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!


About Benedict

Freelance culture journalist and Film Studies graduate. Netflix is his happy place.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Leave a Reply