So what do we have here ? A plot with the action thriller movie constituents and condiments : Brave hero. Beautiful heroine. Nice sidekick. Bad guy from the supposedly good guys. Chase the good guys. Try to kill them. Frame the lead. Plus a new sophisticated gun, some good action sequences, one every 7 minutes, added to a dialogue consisting of successive macho and funny one-liners like : "If you drop your gun now, I promise I won't kill you.", "You're luggage!", "Mr. Sixty Minutes, tell me something I don't know.", "You're late! / Traffic.", "Where is this? / Earth. Welcome.", "They caught a train.", and my favorite since the first viewing long time ago : "You've just been erased." Schwarzenegger is so charismatic and in shape, being shot in mostly low angles to look like a *true* tree trunk. See how he walks perfectly confident, wears a long coat as if he's a dusty sheriff, fights like a live wire, and humorously negotiates a kid "50 Bucks ?!" Vanessa Williams never looked better, shining every scene she's in. She didn't have to get naked or vulgar to be sexy, because with modest outfit and by a look from her incomparable blue eyes, she instantly is. And I love when she had to move her lips to curse by the F word without uttering it.. so delicate ! Robert Pastorelli made what could be his best role. Alan Silvestri music explodes instead of the image sometimes. And some of the CGI impress. It even had a promoting music video, "Where Do We Go From Here", with charming performance by Vanessa Williams, and fervent arrangement; being part of the MTV legacy which, for its quality, won't fall into utter oblivion. So this is fast-paced, action packed, colorfully dazzling fare, that hit $234,400,000 gross, and an academy award nomination for best sound effects editing. Though, many accusations may find a way to harm it. Vanessa Williams doesn't have a real character, she's more like a doll whose being chased, and that's it. We don't know a thing about Schwarzenegger's character either. And, most importantly, there is no love story to develop between them, or even a friendship with distinct features. Look at a scene like the one in which he forced her to burn her ID cards in the hearth's fire, the script didn't utilize the moment to build any kind of emotional convergence between the 2 characters, so nothing was warm there but the hearth's fire ! However, million can defend by saying that this is a straight action, where things like character development, or characterization in the first place, are considered bore, nonsense, or blasphemy ! How a man jumps off a plane, to chase his parachute, and catches it, then shoots the plane's windshield, as if he's facing a car ?!! But, again, it's a fantastic realm, exclusively made to entertain you, show you an invincible hero, give you a lovely dream, to compensate your foibles, feel victory and have a model, whatever.. The lead doesn't have a solution at last, but murdering all the baddies, since the law is so weak to condemn them. It's another way to gift you with the salvation. An extremely violent, if not insane, but it's the Dirty Harry effect, where justice must be bloody !However, other accusations can harm the movie, with no defense from my side. While being ideal in places, the CGI is exposed in others. The crocodiles, the exploded door of Williams's flat, the falling container, and hitting Arnie by the plane; are enough examples. And it always provokes me to "see" the bullets while the moment of the bulletproof glass ! The face of Arnie's double is so obvious in couple of shots (one is at the parachute sequence). Arnie's nail injury disappears within a scene. No way that Arnie couldn't glimpse implanting Williams's picture in the murdered woman's clothes. The Baltimore docks' men are suddenly heroes, all-set to sacrifice their lives for their country (they seemed rather angry for not having a commission !). Dismembering one of the bad guys' shoulder was awful, and felt inserted just to get the R rating, as long as there is no sex scene ! The no love, friendship, or character in the mix did leave the movie a bit empty. And James Caan can't be Schwarzenegger's antagonist. Yes, he's a tough guy, but also old, shorty, and un-scary compared to Arnie ! When Arnie comes disguised as a balloon delivery man to Williams's house, with "Let's Party!" printed on his jacket; it's a reference to Commando (1985) in which he says that line. Actually, Eraser is nothing but a party. It mixes the 1970s tough cop actions, and political thrillers, with the 1990s Terminator's sci-fi, and big and loud blockbusters, through the formula of "a-man-and-a-woman-on-the-run", which was in fashion since the 1960's end, and being made in numerous movies at the time; such as The Pelican Brief (1993), I Love Trouble (1994), Fair Game (1995), and The Long Good Night Kiss (1996), all to end up as average crap, though ready to entertainingly fill any 2 spare hours in your life. I know it did that for me, many times too ! Finally, it's a shame that Chuck Russell, director of The Mask (1994), and Eraser (1996), isn't working in Hollywood movies anymore. Unlike the way it goes in Eraser, something erased his future, and left him unprotected !
The 2-year gap between True Lies and Eraser forced some action fans into thinking that Big Arn had retired. He had delivered at least one action movie per year since Terminator. Eraser had an awesome trailer, to the tune of Enigma's wonderful "I Love You, I'll Kill You", that rocked my world in the summer of 1996. I saw virtually every blockbuster that year, and the Eraser trailer was attached to every one of them. It came out out in the UK in the very last week of summer (and my first week back at school). I saw it at the now demolished UCI cinema in Edinburgh with a sold-out audience, mostly filled with guys out for a "lad's night". The movie was rated 18, and even though I was 3 years below that mark, I still got in, which was fortunate since the cinema version is the only uncut version of the film that has ever been released in the UK. For its VHS and DVD release the mad BBFC saw fit to cut 4 minutes from Eraser, turning it into an incomprehensible mess. It capped-off an awesome summer season (or so my 15-year-old self thought), and put to rest any fears that Big Arn was slowing down (although he has only made 5 action movies, to date, since then).Arn is John Kruger (an amusing choice of name since director Chuck Russell also made the 3rd Nightmare on Elm Street Movie), a Witness Protection Program Agent who is tasked with 'erasing' and protecting a high-level informant who can prove that there are traitors within the US government who are selling weapons to Russian terrorists. Naturally the informant is the lovely, and wide-eyed, Vanessa Williams, who involves herself in a subdued romantic subplot with Kruger. James Caan and the always great James Coburn provide respectable support as Kruger's antagonist and mentor, but the best support is no doubt Robert Pastorelli (an actor who I really liked who died of a heroin overdose in 2004), who plays a previous witness who is eager to please Kruger in his latest, impossible quest.Overall, it's hardly revolutionary, but what makes Eraser stand out from the crowd is the utterly breathtaking (literally) scene in which Kruger escapes a jet, mid-flight, without the comfort of a parachute on his shoulders. It's definitely one of the best action scenes in the last 20 years and, let me tell you, when that scene climaxed in the cinema, the packed audience of 'lads' totally sucked the air out of the auditorium. A massively exciting, and completely exhilarating, scene that never fails to get your heart racing.Alan Silvestri's score is one of the film's more underrated features. Silvestri scored Big Arn's Predator, a famous score in its own right, and while Eraser is not as famous as Predator you should not rule out the integrity of the score. When separated from the movie it is still one of Silvestri's best efforts.I guess the only complaint I could have about Eraser is that it's kinda anti-climatic. The best scene occurs at the end of the second act, leaving the final act pale in comparison. There's no iconic imagery to the film and it seems kinda forgettable when compared to other Arn characters who have endured the test of time. Nonetheless, it's at the top of the bottom of Arn's best movies, but make sure you the version you watch has not been butchered by the BBFC.The Blu Ray is in 2.40:1 1080p with Dolby TrueHD sound. Extras are non-existent.