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Austin O'Brien
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130 minutes

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Last Action Hero
Arnie's $85 million folly

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Agog poppet Austin O'Brien is zapped into his hero Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger)'s latest blastathon.

Snakeskin boots clomp down upon the sidewalk. The hero unclamps the stogy from his mouth and snarls "You want to be a farmer? Here's a couple of acres!" before kicking an adversary in the balls.

Yes, Big Arnold, the Macho Man, is back ... Except he's not, for what we are seeing here is a movie within a movie. Arnold is "Jack Slater", star of firepower-fuelled action flicks, and an 11-year-old boy, Danny (O'Brien), is watching his idol (in "Jack Slater IV") on the screen. Now, Danny has a magic cinema ticket and this whisks him off into film-land and the backseat of Jack's car right in the middle of a noisy chase sequence.

Such is the conceit of Last Action Hero: "real" character joins "fictional" character up on screen, "fictional" character joins "real" character in "real" world. And just look at the difference. On film, "Jack Slater" can punch through glass and plummet from tall buildings and do himself no injury; in the "real" world, he discovers, these things hurt. In the "real" world, the "bad guys" sometimes win. Yes, sad to say, this is a film striving for a "moral" of a "hey-kids-don't-try-this-action-stuff-at-home/hey-kids-don't-take-this-action-stuff-too-seriously" nature.

Be careful out there, soft Arnold is cooing. There again, Last Action Hero is a film that wants to have its candy and eat it, too: for while it sends up action movies, its many lavish blowing-up scenes and its display of "splendid" weaponry are as glossy and numbing as anything you're likely to get in a genuine "actioner". Having said all that, there are some not unamusing moments here. Like when Jack Slater's life is saved by a cartoon cat called Whiskers who works at the same fictional police precinct.

Or like when Danny, having to watch Olivier's Hamlet in English class, daydreams that it's "Jack Slater" who is the Prince - "Claudius. You killed my father. Big mistake. To be or not to be? Not to be" (Cue enormous explosion of Elsinore). Or like when Danny, attempting to convince "Jack" that he's living in a movie, takes him into a video shop only to come across a display for Terminator 2 starring Sylvester Stallone.

The "plot"? Oh, a load of hokum about Charles Dance (obligatory English psychopath bad person) who's trying to kill everybody. That doesn't matter: the joke's the thing. And there's many a cameo personage on hand - Sharon Stone in that dress, Tina Turner, Little Richard, Arnie's real-life wife Maria Shriver (who almost steals the film by telling the "real" Arnie how ridiculous he is) - to show that they think it's all quite funny, too. "How would you feel if you just found out someone had made you up?" says "Slater" in bewilderment. Oh, Arnold, you are a card.

This is an attempt to be both a high-octane actionfest and a satire on such films, the result of which is the weirdest concoction: the metaphysical blockbuster. No wonder it tanked.

Reviewed by Tom Hibbert

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Last Action Hero
Empire Star Rating

A fantastic movie with great fun !

I never get tired or get bored while watching this movie unlike many recent blockbusters like Transformers series, Taken 2, Taken 3 etc. Very very underrated. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hasin73 at 15:19, 15 January 2015 | Report This Post


This movie is a misunderstood parody of the entire action genre. It is McTiernans love letter. Purposefully designed to illustrate cliched characters and OTT action, McTiernan revels in his dangerously fun action-movie world and then brings it into the funnily dangerous real world. The result is a depiction of our desensitization to violence in both cinematic and real terms. This got poor reviews because McTiernan didnt make the movie everyone wanted. He made the movie he wanted and that is one ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bnicholson50 at 22:18, 16 August 2010 | Report This Post

I truly love this movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 22:35, 17 January 2010 | Report This Post

The best-action-comedy movie!

I wish there could be another of this genre... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by batbhai at 06:31, 14 January 2010 | Report This Post

The best-action-comedy movie!

I wish there could be another of this genre... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by batbhai at 06:31, 14 January 2010 | Report This Post

before its time

I agree with jimibadboi7....ahead of its time and a Sony marketing cock up...led to it being sunk before it released. Very clever....and fun! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Samurai7 at 09:01, 08 January 2010 | Report This Post

Criminally Underrated!

Last Action Hero is a fantastic film...a self-reflexive action comedy! and yes, Arnold is funny!!! The film was an easy target for critcs to maul because it was WAY ahead of its time. It only tanked at the box office because some studio exec thought it wise to put it up against Jurassic Park! This is up there with T2, Predator and True Lies in terms of great Arnold movies! It deserves a cult following. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jimibadboi7 at 15:34, 21 January 2009 | Report This Post

I re-watched this

After i saw it as a kid, this being a time when i thought Arnie was god, and i still think its a wonderfully OTT joy. Seriously needs re-evaluating in my opinion. People seem to forget the whole thing is supposed to be daft and ridiculous. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BrooksyTHX1138 at 01:22, 08 December 2008 | Report This Post

Love this movie

Think old Tom Hibbert missed the point, obviously satire is wasted on him. I think LAH does what it sets out to do very well. ... More

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Posted by tallaght24 at 09:27, 16 April 2008 | Report This Post

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