Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Free Action Movie Week: Eraser

I think it's best to start this review by clearing up that you do NOT under any circumstances want to confuse this movie with David Lynch's Eraserhead. One is a crazy action film and the other is a messed-up surrealist film with lots of disturbing imagery. For day two of my Free Action Movie Week, I'm looking at the action film, Eraser, another one I stumbled across among the free movies. It tied with Mystery Men in terms of vote numbers, but a coin toss ultimately placed this as the second film I'd be looking at.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is U.S. Marshal John Kruger, who specializes in protecting key witnesses to serious crimes. To be more specific, he specializes in "erasing" people, as in he eliminates their identity and replaces it with a new one, taking away their past to protect their future. His latest case involves a witness named Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams) who has information about the illegal activities of the arms company she works for. Once the company is on to her involvement, Kruger has to keep her hidden long enough to testify in court,

Unfortunately, matters are complicated when Kruger discovers his buddy Robert DeGeurin (James Caan) is a mole working with a corrupt senator to make lots of money off of selling some brand new and extremely dangerous weapons. Kruger is subsequently framed for the murder of a fellow cop and set up as the mole. It becomes a race against time as Kruger and Lee have to rely on themselves and whatever help they can get from past witnesses as they try to clear their names and expose the real villains. It's a bit like a slightly more elaborate version of Clint Eastwood's The Gauntlet.

This is a fun movie as you can expect from a Schwarzenegger action film, but I'm not sure this is the best I've seen of his work. I honestly felt Schwarzenegger wasn't used to his full potential, and a lot of what made him so enjoyable was missing. For instance, why was it that out of everybody in the cast he was the only person that didn't include any one-liners in his action scenes, at least not until the last few minutes? Vanessa Williams does a decent job with her role, but I felt like I would have wanted to see more of her in action. She spends a lot of time having to be protected and gets a few moments but in general has to hide behind Schwarzenegger. I honestly felt like she could have been a more enjoyable character if perhaps she had grown into more of an action heroine by the end.

That said, the action is still plenty of fun, if a bit over the top. The fact that the villains are working with an arms company allow for the designs of some funny-looking weapons used. James Caan makes an intimidating enough villain once he finally reveals himself, so there is definitely a sense of satisfaction when he is finally defeated, and his interactions with the other villains are solid enough. The fact that they are as dangerous as they are does allow for some tense moments and keeps you wanting to know how the heroes are going to get out of each mess they find themselves in.

The other performance I found I enjoyed was Robert Pastorelli's appearance as Johnny Casteleone, a previous witness who assists Kruger out of a desire to repay him for his help. This character adds a nice bit of comic relief to the film, such as when he has to infiltrate the villains' headquarters disguised as a pizza delivery boy. If I were to point out any faults here it would be with his cousin Tony Two-Toes and his friends. These characters are enjoyable enough on screen, but they do seem to come out of nowhere during the climax to help Schwarzenegger take on the bad guys. I think they could have benefited from some earlier appearances just so that we know who they are when they join in on the action.

The action scenes themselves are for the most part very good, though there are a few that fall short. There is one scene where a brawl happens in the reptile exhibit of a zoo, which culminates in several villains being eaten by some very fake-looking computer generated alligators. This part put me off on a few levels, as outside the terrible effects I was left wondering why animals that by this point would be used to being taken care of by people would immediately see them as food (as well as why the villains didn't just use the guns they obviously had to avoid them). The alligators also seemed to go at them pretty quickly, which raises more than a few questions about how poorly maintained this zoo is if they're THAT hungry. Fortunately, this one scene doesn't last very long and the rest of the action works okay.

Ultimately, Eraser isn't exactly the greatest action film I've covered so far but it is still an enjoyable little movie. It's got a few little problems and there is that one scene that might pull you out, but otherwise it's not too bad. It's a straight forward enough film with some creative action scenes and enough tension to keep you interested, so if you enjoy a good Arnold Schwarzenegger film it might be worth checking out.


  1. I thought it was okay, but still one of Arnie's lesser films. And yeah, Vanessa Williams is pure damsel in distress, here. Good review.

    1. She had a handful of moments, but even then it generally amounted to buying Arnold time to rescue her. It certainly didn't help that the film even had some opportunities in the climax for her to toughen up and didn't take any of them. Hopefully tomorrow's film will be better.

  2. A good review and it is a fun flick as I like to call these types of films. I enjoyed it more than some of his others but not as good as True Lies. I also found the croc zoo venture a bit funny. Those poor animals must have been starving! Isn't this the one where he falls out of an airplane, lands on a car and gets up and just places his hand on his lower back as if he just fell off the bottom part of his stairs (going by memory here). That was a bit over the top:)

    1. Yes, it was. The aerial action was pretty cool, with Arnold hanging off the edge and having to get down safely before the plane could hit him, but him breaking his fall by landing on a truck was a bit silly. It reminded me of that Monty Python sketch where a guy jumps out of an airplane and survives by carefully timing his jump to land on a bale of hay that was about half his size and somehow that broke his fall.