Eraser (1996)


Is it just me, or is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent getting worse? I think it is, as is his acting ability, as well as his choice of films to star in. This time it’s Eraser, a big-budget, small-plot, fair-to-middling feature that continues the testosterone-infused series that Arnie’s been working on since Pumping Iron.

It’s the cheeseball role to end all cheeseball roles: John Kruger (Arnie) works for the Witness Relocation Program as an ‘identity eraser,’ and he answers to no one (sorta). His charge is Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), an executive with ‘Cyrez,’ who discovers that her company is selling next generation weapons to Russkie terrorists. The FBI uses her just to get the goods on Cyrez, and it’s up to Arnie to save her hide from the bad guys, which includes turncoat fellow eraser Robert Deguerin (James Caan).

Meanwhile, Arnie does about every stupid thing possible in order to (a) inadvertently lead the bad guys to Lee, (b) get in lots of fights, (c) blow up stuff, and (d) crack jokes. All of this works with varying success. In the film, Arnold comes off as a complete idiot who couldn’t protect his lunch money without blurting out where it is. It’s a good thing he’s so tough, otherwise it’d be a short film indeed. Even Arnold’s jokes here are of the lowest quality yet, sadly.

It’s sad, really, because everyone but the star is pretty good. Williams proves herself as capable of holding her own against the big guy, and Robert Pastorelli’s Mafioso-in-protection all but steals the show. We’re also treated to some bad-ass special effects (ILM’s faker-than-fake digital crocodiles not withstanding), courtesy of some of the most wicked weapons on screen. (Actually, the best effect is the replacement of all mention/viewing of the word ‘Cyrex’ with ‘Cyrez’ to avoid big lawsuits from the similarly-named chip manufacturer.)

Overall, the film delves into complete and utter ridiculousness in the plot arena, and at the same time is totally predictable — in fact, large chunks of it are lifted right out of True Lies. Throw on a dumb ending… and the rest you can just erase.