Ossus Library Index Action Movie Index

ERASER

Directed by Chuck Russell (1997, Warner Bros.)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, and Vanessa L Williams

A Marshall entrusted with keeping a government witness safe goes on the defensive when he discovers a leak in his department.

 

 

2 stars

February 11th, 2001 on TV

 
    Surprisingly enjoyable, all the way through. Basically a shoot-em-up action movie, with negligible plot.

I don't know why I watch these kinds of movies. I'm invariably disappointed. And yet I'm drawn to them. And sometimes I even enjoy them. This is one of those times. This type of movie tends to sputter and die less than halfway through, but this one never cried to the incredulous, even at the end. I tend to forgive movies that have bad guys who were supposed to be the best shots in the business missing their target (one person) while using a machine gun. After all, if they were as good as advertised, the movie would be over very quickly.

The plot is thin, and gets out of the way pretty quickly. Somebody in a defense contracting company is selling weapons to terrorists outside the US. Dr. Lee Cullen is used by the FBI to get proof. Once she gets the proof, she is a target, so they call in an "Eraser". John Kruger erases people's identities so that they cannot be tracked down. Lee will be a prime witness against senior officials, so she is in need of protection. But the corruption goes up very high, so that one of John's coworkers is involved, and goes all the way up to the secretary of defense in the government!

One of the prototype weapons is used when they try to kill Lee, but John shows up and does some fancy tricks to get them out and get Lee to safety. But his friend in the agency, Robert, tells him that government witnesses are being killed, and that Lee could be next. We get to see Robert's treachery first hand, while John walks in only a few seconds too late. But he becomes suspicious, and sends Lee a panic code.

John is shown to be the best in the business, and the others should know better than to go up against him. He spots forged identities within a few seconds, and knows when people are lying to him. The face-off in the zoo was very nicely handled. Lee never lost her cool, and it seems that she has experience with using guns! The crocodiles were expected, but not the efficiency with which they managed to handle John's enemies. Even John stood there in awe as the crocodiles hunted the men down -until one turned on him!

The fight scenes were well choreographed, as was the infiltration of the contractor's building (though I'm not sure the Pepto-Bismol foaming-at-the-mouth trick would really work -wouldn't someone smell it?). Once they escaped, and tracked the merchandise to the port, it was an out-and-out bullet frenzy, complete with those new, compact, rail-guns. It was an impressive sight. 

Eraser was predictable enough that it didn't require any thinking, and I was calling out many of the events way before they happened. But the energy never let up, there were no out-of-place mushy scenes between the protector and the protected, and the gun fights had some unusual and very neat effects (especially the rail-guns; the effects from that may have inspired the slow-motion bullets in The Matrix). 

I also liked the final scene, where the van carrying John and Lee explodes just after they leave the trial's first day. We cut to a view of a manhole cover being slid shut just underneath the van, showing us how good the Eraser is. I don't think the confusion between Robert and the undersecretary was necessary -it would have been better had one of them been actually involved in the bombing. But John's friend driving the limo and locking them in as a train plows them in two was gratifying. (Speaking of his friend, how long was his buddy at the bar supposed to cover for him serving drinks?)

So a no-brainer, shoot-em-up, action-packed movie was great for a Sunday night. I didn't expect much, and I was pleasantly surprised. Also, the movie didn't take itself too seriously, which is a good thing, and makes the movie much easier to enjoy.
 
   

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