Director James Cameron and mega-star Arnold Schwarzenegger, the team that brought to life "The Terminator" and "T2: Judgment Day", are back in theatres doing the big-budget action movie thing one more time. Filled with bullets and explosions and plenty of heart-pounding excitement, "True Lies" is the loudest film of the summer. Whether this is good or bad depends on your nerves, but at least the film is never dull. Well, almost never.
The conceit of the film is that the hero, Harry Taskar (Schwarzenegger), has operated as an international spy for 15 years without ever telling his wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), what he really does for a living. She thinks that he is a computer salesman when in actuality he belongs to an organization known as the Omega Sector, the most top-secret government agency that exists. He and his cohort Gib (Tom Arnold) are as skillful at deception as they are at tracking down information and killing terrorists.
This latter task they have been mighty busy at of late because a Mid-Eastern madman has just stolen several nuclear warheads and threatens America with them. But before Harry decides to devote his energies in this direction, they become directed at discovering whether or not his wife is having an affair. In fact, he misappropriates government resources to track down his wife's suspected lover, as well as capture them and submit them to a high-tech interrogation.
Just as this domestic crisis is finally being laid to rest, Harry and Helen are captured by the terrorists and made part of their plot. It is only then that Helen discovers the lies she has been living with for years. Of course, all matters of emotion are cast aside so that husband and wife can lay waste to the outlaw army.
"True Lies" starts out great, with a scenario right out of a "James Bond" movie ("The Spy Who Loved Me" to be exact). But then it spends way, way, WAY too much time exploring the "is my wife cheating on me" subplot. One might even begin to forget about the imminent attack on the U.S. by the time this particular story thread reaches its conclusion. It's as if Cameron wrote two-thirds of a great action screenplay and then padded out the rest to fill time. Even the climax of the film, which finds Harry rescuing his daughter with a military fighter jet, goes on too long.
If the whole film had matched the enthusiasm and style of its first ten minutes, this would have been the biggest blockbuster of the year. "True Lies" does deliver the thrills, it's just too bad that it is so stingy with them.