|07.24.22||Internet|| OK so I was pretty tough on The Gray Man and thought it was basically a not-as-good version of True Lies and that I should've just watched True Lies because it's the best spy action movie out there.|
So I watched it. And I think my memories were helping it a fair amount. The short version of this note is that it hasn't aged perfectly, was never perfect to begin with, and is just as action-figure-toybox as Gray Man, just in a 90s way instead of a 2020s way.
So... watching this basically reminded me of how much my buddy Jim loved the movie when it came out. Cameron's brand of humor hit him right in the sweet spot, and it is very effective in breaking up the action or putting a button on scenes. The humor really helps because without it this movie would've aged much more poorly. It still veers into "problematic" territory for the whole second act, where Arnie basically terrorizes and forces his wife into prostitution for laughs. It doesn't play that way of course, but it also kinda does. I do remember even when it came out that it seemed like a whole other movie just injects itself into the middle of the main move for an hour or so then it gets good again. Now it's even more so.
Some of the action scenes also show their age. In my head this stands as more or less the pinnacle of pre-CGI action effects. This is after T2 so there may have been some digital assets snuck in there but everything I saw was just a ton of green-screen compositing work. However, these digital cameras just move faster these days. The beginning sequence of Arnie on a horse vs. the terrorist on a motorbike can't help but feel a tiny bit lethargic. Again though, the humor pulls it through. Arnie's stream of polite apologies as the horse gallops through the Georgetown Mall keeps you snickering. And Cameron's touches, like how messy Arnie's harrier piloting is... having the jet's wheel destroy one cop car then nudging into another when it lands are subtle touches that ground the effect (which I believe they had on a giant crane or gimbal or something that they may have digitally erased?).
But there's still something to be said for the practical stuff. I was still totally on board for the end sequence with the harriers and the bridge as well as the stuff with the harrier and the building crane. I mean they actually blew up that damn bridge! They had to build a new one so they could blow up the old one. That's crazy.
Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton were still highlights for me as the comic relief. As a kid, I was on the fence about Jamie Lee Curtis but now I see how incredibly fit she was for the role and, again, they make her do a strip-tease and all this action in a tiny dress and she just has to forgive Arnie for all this shit. But it's not that kind of a movie. Arnie is a total man-child (when she says "go do your job" or whatever after the nuke goes off he's totally "ok byeeeeeee").
So... yeah, not without its flaws. I still enjoyed it but I was mostly back in high school watching it in my memory so of course I enjoyed it. I still haven't seen the original French file that it's based on (La Totale!) but the trailer looks surprisingly similar.
Anyway, I still liked it, although I do now thing I was a bit harsh with The Gray Man.