a critiQal film review Eraser (1996)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Federal Marshal John Kruger (Schwarzenegger) keeps witnesses within the Witness Protection Program safe. His latest witness is Lee Cullen (Williams), who inadvertently uncovered a scheme to deliver one of the most advanced super-weapons ever developed into hands that could shift the world's balance of power forever - a conspiracy that reaches even the highest levels of government. With no one to trust but each other, Kruger and Lee must fight to stay alive while trying to expose the players in this deadly game.

Reviewed
454 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 16s)

Ah, an Arnie movie. Growing up when action stars like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the biggest things going, it’s always nice going back and taking a look at some of their movies. True, they don’t always measure up (Rambo III (1988) for example). But, it’s still nice reliving a time when action heroes spouted one-liners and mopped up the bad guys without breaking a sweat.

Eraser is another prime example of that era, despite coming out in 1996. Arnold is in top form, spouting memorable one-liners (“you’re luggage” he quips to a now-dead crocodile) while wasting any and all bad guys that are unfortunate enough to get in his way. Despite being written off as a muscle-bound moron, the now-Governor Schwarzenegger always had good comedic timing. He was good at adding the deadpan witticism right when the viewer’s ripe for it.

Vanessa Williams, who never seemed to get a fair shake as an actress (she’s more known for her nude photo Miss America fiasco), is refreshing as the damsel in distress. Viewers can easily understand why Schwarzenegger’s Kruger goes to such lengths to protect her. She has an innocence about her that remains constant throughout the film, despite the violence she is subjected to.

James Caan also does a good job in the film, playing a fellow US Marshal to Schwarzenegger. As Kruger’s mentor, he’s got just the right amount of teacher quality. Still, it’s painfully obvious he just isn’t as focused on his job as he used to be.

James Coburn pops up briefly as their stern-but-fair boss (replaying his Hudson Hawk performance without the spoofing). But it’s Robert Pastorelli (that painter guy from Murphy Brown (TV)) that delivers the surprise performance, as a former mob guy turned witness. His wise-guy attitude and rough accent serve him well in Eraser, and help him deliver a fun, memorable performance.

The action scenes are fast-paced and intense, with the super-weapon rail guns bringing a new level of danger to the game. Sure, some of the stunts are over-the-top (the airplane sequence, for example). Even so, he film does a good job of getting the viewer’s adrenaline pumping so quickly they don’t mind the scenes are patently ridiculous. There are still a few sequences that seem to still be wildly out-there – like the crocodile scene, with it’s silly stop-motion finale. Overall, the viewer will enjoy most of the sequences for what they are – popcorn-munching explosive-action flights of fantasy.

Playing the toughest US Marshal ever, Schwarzenegger delivers another fun, adrenaline-pumping performance in Eraser. Toss in a better-than-expected supporting cast, including Vanessa Williams and Robert Pastorelli in some of their most memorable roles, and Eraser delivers pure popcorn entertainment. And that’s despite the occasional over-the-top silliness.

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