Daily Archives: December 5, 2014

Eraser (1996)


*. Were the 1990s the worst decade ever for film?
*. They don’t make action movies like this much any more (the self-consciously retro Expendables franchise notwithstanding). Even in 1996 I remember this as being a bit of a dinosaur.
*. The formula had become so familiar all you had to do was sit back and let it go through all the motions. As soon as you saw that alligator tank you knew the glass was going to get shot out and the alligators set loose. That’s what it was there for. And as soon as you saw James Caan you knew he was crooked, because Jimmy Caan looks like a crooked man. And heaven knows when they blew up the building Arnie was in and Caan said “that’s it, he must be dead,” you laughed.
*. It’s hard to imagine a script so conventional and clichéd went through so many drafts and had so many different writers on board. Did they just keep dumbing it down? I suspect they had problems with the ending, as it really seems tacked on.
*. It’s the sort of plot that deserves the label “perfunctory.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but only operates as a clothes line to hang the big action scenes from, with the final firefight involving lots of things being blow up real good. Along the way the hero cracks groaners like “You’re luggage” (after shooting one of the alligators, naturally).
*. The top secret weapon is a “rail gun,” which is described as an electromagnetic pulse rifle. I don’t know what that is. Apparently “they fire aluminum rounds at almost the speed of light.” I think not. I mean, they certainly look cool, what with their super x-ray scopes and icy blue bullet vapour trails, but no.
*. The scene where Caan gives the kiss of death to the witness he’s just shot is nasty. And I thought the alligators looked pretty darn good too. Aside from that, Arnie is only a plastic action figure, able to fight through any injury and dodge any bullet, while Vanessa Williams and Robert Pastorelli don’t rise above their stock parts.
*. Like the dinosaurs, these movies were too big and too dumb to survive. Eraser is neither the best nor the worst of its kind. It’s just typical, and so pretty much entirely forgettable.