James Cameron has a reputation for his heavy, serious, special effects laden films. True Lies is a change from what is expected from him, kind of.
True Lies is by far a bloated film. It starts off well enough, a story about a super-spy character, Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who lives a double life. His two lives consist of one as a super-spy and another as a father/husband. His priorities seem to be more towards being a super-spy. He is tracking a bad guy from the Middle East and must stop him from using the nuclear warheads that possesses.
This would have been a great film, but Cameron, who wrote the script, stops everything and puts in a story about Harry and his ordinary housewife (Jamie Lee Curtis). The story follows Harry as he vengefully spies and follows his wife around trying to find out if she is cheating on him. And Harry is just not someone we like after what he puts his wife through in the luxury hotel suite. This whole mid-portion of the film just does not work, and bogs a rather good action film. The comedy that Cameron tries to introduce using this portion of the film does not work at all. Moreover it puts Harry in bad light, making him look like a vengeful abusive husband.
The action sequences in True Lies are complicated and well done. Cameron shows that he knows how to do action. His highlight action sequences are an opening escape from a mansion, a fight scene in a bathroom (which strangely ends up on a rooftop), and an ending Harrier sequence that has to been seen to be believed. As always, Cameron’s action is staged in such a way that it’s over-the-top. Suspension of belief is needed for his action sequences, and once that is achieved they can be enjoyed.
If Cameron had focused on Harry’s problem with the terrorist, this film would have ended up a fun film. As it stands, at almost two and a half hours, it’s a bit long and the mid-section is not something that is worth sitting through to get to the action. Is True Lies fun? Almost. Should you see True Lies? If you have the time to sit through some painfully bad attempts at humor to get some spectacular action sequences.