I was watching True Lies last night, for the first time in years. I noticed things: Harry Tasker, and the movie as a whole, would not be nearly as good without Schwarzenegger. Tasker has some lines that I can’t imagine being nearly as good if Schwarzenegger wasn’t saying them. That and Tasker is actually a despicable person in this movie, he basically goes off the rails and, as a result, the threat of bad guys getting nuclear weapons happens because he believes his wife is having an affair.
Schwarzenegger has to have the audience sympathize with Tasker as he becomes increasingly more of a villain. He kidnaps and interrogates his wife. He uses his resources as a government official, resources that were being used to track bad guys, to track down his wife. It’s all really terrible. It’s a testament, I think, to the movie and the actor that you can still root for Harry Tasker.
But the other thing I thought of, which I’ve thought of before, is where is Tasker from? Is Tasker Austrian? The sense that I get is that Harry Tasker is not Austrian. Think about that. I’m starting to think that Schwarzenegger has only played an Austrian once in any movie I’ve ever seen. I think, in-movie-universe, Harry Tasker does not have an Austrian accent. He’s just a regular joe.
It’s really the only thing that makes sense in True Lies. How else could Helen not notice that she’s dating an immigrant with the build of a body-builder? Harry could convincingly be many things, but I still think it strains credibility to buy that he’s just a boring computer salesman.
Where I as the audience see Arnold Schwarzenegger, everyone else sees an American guy. This has happened for so long in my movie going experience that it took me a while to realize that I can’t hear Schwarzenegger’s accent. I accept that he’s an American character. I don’t think of him as a foreigner. That’s what makes Last Stand so jarring for me because that’s the first time I’ve seen him acknowledge that he isn’t a native of the USA. He’s just been such a fixture in my movie-going experience (for my entire life basically) that it took until I was into my 30s to realize what I’ve overlooked for years.
Anyway, I stand justified. True Lies is indeed still awesome.