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Eraser (1996)
Rated R

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, and James Caan

Rating:
***
out of
*****

Action films have really gotten outrageous over the last few years. With the introduction of computer-generated special effects, many action movies have gone completely over-the-top in their attempts to up the ante in the "drop the audience's jaw" game. 1996's Eraser walks the fine line of being over-the-top but remaining likeable enough to keep a viewer's interest.

John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a government employee who's responsible for placing people in witness protection programs. His tactics involve "erasing" a person's old identity, usually by faking their death, to keep them safe so they can testify in federal criminal cases. He's called in to erase the identity of Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), who's just uncovered a defense contractor's plans to sell a new secret weapon to unfriendly countries. Cullen has made a copy of a disc that contains incriminating evidence. Of course, the bad guys will do anything to get that disc.

Since defense contracts garner big bucks and defense companies usually have ties to the government, someone has ratted out Kruger's usually secure methods of disguising his clients' whereabouts in an attempt to find Cullen, get the disc and cover their tracks. Kruger, like all good Americans, takes pride in his work and refuses to let Cullen fall into the wrong hands before justice has been served.

OK, plots really don't mean too much in action movies other than, you know the deal, to set things up so other things can blow up or apart. And, as you may have guessed, that happens fairly often in Eraser. Lots of things blow up, get shot at, bleed, crash, swear or scream.

Normally, I'm not much of a fan of these big, overblown action movies. After seeing Jackie Chan do his own stunts and get hurt in the process, I find it hard to sit through a movie that tries to convince the audience that Schwarzenegger is really jumping out of a plane without a parachute.

Being as that makes it sound like I can't suspend my disbelief, I was surprised at all the allowances I made for Eraser and still ended up enjoying it. Sure, the fact that Schwarzenegger takes more damage than an A-10 tank-killing jet could withstand and still keeps breathing makes it difficult to believe this could happen, but it's just so much fun watching it I didn't much care. The rail gun, the weapon that's being illegally shipped out of the country, is one of the better high-tech gadgets that a movie has come up with lately. And, seeing James Caan ham it up with Schwarzenegger was almost worth the rental cost alone.

It's not art, but who expects art when the name Schwarzenegger is involved? It's fun and doesn't require any brain power all -- a perfect movie to rent with a bunch of friends.

Trivia: There are continuity errors abound in this movie. Notably, the fact that the rail gun requires a battery pack to operate, but a certain Austrian actor can fire two of them simultaneously and doesn't require a battery pack for either of them. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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