By: Jacob Bloodee Jacob Babcock
Eraser was released in both the year and month of my birthday, a couple weeks later on June 21 1996! Directed by Chuck Russell who helmed Scorpion King which I’ve always enjoyed as well as the fan favorite entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Dream Warriors…the story follows John Kruger (reference?) a top agent involved in the witness protection program that erases the past and deals with the future. He must protect whistleblower Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams) who has evidence against an arms corporation whose selling high tech weapons to terrorist, Kruger then discovers that it runs deep in his own agency.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this movie! Arnold Schwarzenegger is a childhood hero of mine, my favorite classic action hero and still one of my all time favorite actors in general today. I remember playing the VHS tape numerous times over the years as a kid, always felt like this was an overlooked effort amidst all his colossal hits. Some say this was his last “good action film, but I disagree as 6th Day and Collateral Damage both followed a few years after, not to mention End of Days, T3 which was always fine to me along with Last Stand and Sabotage along with his roles in Escape Plan and the Expendables films. I assure you Arnie was and is doing fine!
Singer Vanessa Williams costars and does an admirable job, getting to play a female lead that wasn’t completely reduced to just a damsel in distress. James Caan (Misery, Elf) is on bad guy duties as Kruger’s former mentor who turns out to be apart of the conspiracy and corruption. Caan does great even if he clearly can’t physically match Schwarzenegger, he pulls off the role easily. He was hesitant about taking a role in a big action film but he ended up liking the story. It worked out however I wish the dynamic and history between him and Kruger was a little more fleshed out. Other notables in the cast include James Cromwell, Robert Pastorelli, James Coburn, John Slattery, Michael Papajohn and even action genre favorite Patrick Kilpatrick (Death Warrant, Under Siege 2).
There’s a lot of really solidly done action in part thanks to cinematographer Adam Greenberg who Arnie personally recommended due to his efforts in the Terminator movies. There’s some good shootouts and fight scenes in spades and although Kruger isn’t a T-800 and they do actually make him a little vulnerable, he is a super spy and one of the money shots of the climax is when he emerges from the rubble and dual wields two of the large hi-tech rifles seen throughout the film, erasing (or terminating) anyone in sight.
Some of the CGI used for backgrounds has been questioned as being dated like on the plane scene which is a good sequence and I thought it looked fine though there is some clearly dated effects with some gators but it’s a cool and fun scene that pops up nonetheless. Schwarzenegger was able to get the director and producer who were at odds to work together and in general it seems like everyone apparently got along on set and the fun shows.
It’s tough to say if I’d put this in my top 10 of Arnold’s as I love all of his films but overall Eraser certainly deserves more credit, its paced out well, it’s one I constantly went to as a kid and it still holds up well today!