I cannot believe the man that directed one of the greatest action films (Die Hard) also directed this dud of a film. John McTiernan’s style is evident throughout Last Action Hero, but the script fails in all possible ways. This film has not gotten any better since I saw this film on the big screen 23 years ago. When I saw the Blu-ray for $3, I figured why not. Now that I spent two hours watching the film, I know why not.
The plot of the film as far as I can tell: Last Action Hero is a meta-movie where a kid (Austin O’Brien) living in a tough part of Manhattan comes into possession of a magic ticket from a projectionist at a theater that is about to be razed to build a new theater. The ticket magically transports the kid into a movie that is starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the film’s action hero Jack Slater. The kid tags along as Slater’s parter in this film within the film. After some cheesy action scenes, the kid and Slater end up out in the “real” world of the kids. In the real world, more cheesy actions happen, a somewhat creative Arnie on Arnie fight happens, bad guys die and credits roll.
I am sure that the story writers (Zak Penn and Adam Leff) thought the idea of a meta-movie was a clever idea. And I agree, it is a great idea. But, the execution by screenwriters (Shane Black and David Arnott) is just terrible. Yes, the writing itself is bad because for the most part, this is a parody of an action movie. The action is suitably cheesy because this is a paraody of action in an action film. That’s all understandable and some of it is actually quite clever and funny. The parts that are good are far out-shadowed by the parts that plain stink.
The film’s internal logic is broken. For instance, when the kid enters Jack Slater’s world, one of the cops he runs into is Robert Patrick as the T-1000 cop out of Terminator 2. But, when the kid drags Slater into a Blockbuster (haha, “What’s that?” The millennials are asking) to show Slater that he is the star of Terminator 2, we see that Arnie has been replaced by Sylvester Stalone. Given this, how could the T-1000 be Robert Patrick or even exist as a real person in Slater’s world?
Near the end of the film, Death (Ian McKellen) emerges from a film. But, while Slater loses all his movie powers when he arrives in the real world, Death keeps all his. How?
By the end of the film, I was left scratching my head to why was this film made? The film has a kernel of genius with the meta-movie idea, but there really is no meat to the film. Certainly not enough meat to justify its more than two-hour running time. The film was not even very funny.
McTiernan has been the director of some of the best action films (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard with a Vengeance and Predator), but he’s also had his big duds like Basic and this film.
Was Last Action Hero worth $3 to watch again? No. It felt like a waste of $3 and two hours.