As crazy as it sounds, there are now two entire generations of film fans who won’t remember a time when James Cameron used to churn out movies on a semi-regular basis. Having opted to spend what’s looking to be the rest of his career on Pandora cranking out Avatar sequels, it’s bittersweet to remember how True Lies marked the end of an era for the game-changing filmmaker.
To put things into perspective, the impending December release of Avatar: The Way of Water will mark only Cameron’s third feature since Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis partnered up to thwart a terrorist plot all the way back in the summer of 1994. Not only that, but True Lies was the future Oscar-winner’s sixth release in a dozen years since he debuted with Piranha II: The Spawning. How times change.
As such, the explosive action classic remains Cameron’s final stand as a director who offered fresh content to the masses every couple of years – with the lead-in to Titanic establishing him as the relentless perfectionist and technological revolutionary we know today. Which is both a blessing and a curse in some respects, because it’s clear that the love for True Lies remains unending.
True Lies is what happens when you’ve got a craftsman at the top of their game given all the tools to succeed, and maximizing every single last one of them. It might just be the best performance of Schwarzengger’s career, while Curtis deservedly scooped a Golden Globe for Best Actress in the Musical or Comedy category, and that’s not to mention the scene-stealing contributions from Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton.
The mix of practical and digital effects was groundbreaking for the time, and the sheer variety of the set pieces on display covers everything from a James Bond-inspired prologue to the gloriously ridiculous third act climax that takes place in, on, and around a skyscraper, via a horseback chase to the roof of a building, and a showstopping chase sequence on a bridge.
It’s breathless stuff, and it’s a crying shame we never got that sequel.