True Lies is a 1994 action-comedy film. It was directed by James Cameron, and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Charlton Heston, and Art Malik. Eliza Dushku makes an early career appearance in this film. True Lies is an extended remake of the 1991 French film La Totale, directed by Claude Zidi and starring Thierry Lhermitte and Miou-Miou.
In a twist for an action hero, Harry has an ordinary home life. His wife, Helen (Curtis), is unaware that her husband is a spy and believes he is a computer salesman. Helen thinks Harry is boring, and their daughter Dana (Dushku), doesn't respect her father.
Working undercover, Harry and Gib contact Juno Skinner at her Washington D.C. office. It turns out Juno is using antiquities to smuggle the warheads into the United States on behalf of a Palestinian terrorist faction named Crimson Jihad. The faction's leader, Aziz (Malik), follows Harry and Gib when he believes they are asking too many questions.
An extended action sequence begins as Harry allows the faction members to tail him into a shopping mall. He leads them into a restroom, which is destroyed in the subsequent melee. Aziz flees the battle on a stolen motorcycle, followed by Harry on a police horse. The chase leads into a Marriott hotel, where Aziz rides the motorcycle into an elevator. The pursuit continues on the hotel roof, and Aziz escapes by jumping into a swimming pool on the roof of a neighboring building.
Because of this action, Harry is late getting home and misses his own birthday party. To make amends, he visits Helen at her office the next day. There, he overhears Helen talking with a co-worker about her affair with Simon (Paxton). The subplot that follows (for the next third of the film) involves Harry's use of his agency's surveillance methods to learn more about Helen's liaison with Simon. At first, Harry believes Simon is an enemy agent, but soon discovers that Simon is a used car salesman who pretends to be a spy in order to seduce women. Harry and his team follow Helen to Simon's home, which they raid using SWAT tactics. Helen is taken prisoner and interrogated (through a one-way mirror and an electronic voice distorter) by Harry and Gib. Under interrogation, Helen admits that she never slept with Simon, but that she craves adventure that she believes her husband can never provide.
Harry gives Helen an assignment he thinks will appeal to her need for excitement. He enlists her in a mock spy operation which leads her to a hotel suite where she performs a striptease for Harry, who hides his face in shadow. Just as Helen discovers Harry through his disguise, the terrorists return. Harry and Helen are taken prisoner.
At the terrorists' hideout, Aziz reveals that his faction has four of the stolen warheads and intends to detonate them. One is armed and set to blow up their hideout on an uninhabited island. Harry and Helen manage to escape just as the terrorists flee the hideout with the other warheads, but Helen then sees Harry disappear in a huge explosion and believes him to have been killed. Helen is then recaptured by Juno Skinner and driven away in her limousine behind the main convoy.
Harry is found relatively unscathed by Gib (who tracked him through a tracking device planted on Helen), and from a helicopter they coordinate an attack by US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jets, on the terrorist convoy which is driving up the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. Two of the stolen warheads are destroyed, while the bomb back at the hideout is allowed to explode relatively harmlessly. Also Helen manages to break free of Juno and is pulled by Harry into the helicopter as Juno's limo drives into the water in a place where the bridge is blown out, killing Juno.
In the finale, Harry goes to the rescue of his daughter, who was kidnapped (offscreen) by the terrorists. Faisil manages to infiltrate the terrorists hideout and kills three of them while Dana gets her hands on the arming key for the nukes and makes a run for it. This leads to a climactic battle with Aziz's men at the top of a skyscraper, with Harry piloting the Harrier through the city of Miami. Harry kills Aziz by launching an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile (with Aziz attached) into a chopper of the last remaining terrorists.
The movie concludes "One Year Later..." with the Taskers back at home, though Helen and Dana are now aware of Harry's secret profession. Indeed, Helen has become Harry's partner, as they go off on a mission together. The film ends as the couple dance Por una Cabeza, a tango. The final scene is of Gib in the van saying he's "sick of being in the van."
James Berardinelli from Reelviews gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, saying "I have yet to decide whether True Lies is a better comedy or action film. It contains heavy elements of both, and plays them equally well. Unlike such failed attempts as Hudson Hawk and Last Action Hero, however, True Lies is a big, grandiose movie that has an immense amount of fun while never taking itself too seriously...Speed (which was released in the same year) and True Lies deliver a summer one-two punch that will leave viewers squirming with excitement and gasping for breath."
The movie relies heavily on stunts, often performed by Schwarzenegger and Curtis themselves. It is largely remembered for action "set pieces" such as a Marine AV-8B Harrier blowing up the Seven Mile Bridge, and Helen being scooped up by helicopter out of a falling car.
The movie earned $146 million and $232.6 million abroad, making it third best-grossing movie of 1994, and also a comeback for Schwarzenegger following the disastrous Last Action Hero of the previous summer. For her performance, Jamie Lee Curtis received a 1994 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy.