The first act of the film starts out with a strong, balanced action sequence that sets up the action-oriented element of the plot: that a group of terrorists are currently attempting to smuggle a nuclear warhead into the United States. Then, as the main character spends time at home with his family while the mission is on standby, the movie moves into the second act, the majority of which is a romantic comedy. The fact that these two elements of action and romantic humor can be juggled so effortlessly is in itself a grand feat, rendering True Lies an absolute must-see.
Just three years after the release of the amazing Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Arnold Shwarzenegger returns to take on the role of Harry Tasker, a character who at first glance makes you think of both Rambo and James Bond. Not only is he tough and efficient, but he's got all the cleverness and playfulness of a ladykiller. So it's something of a surprise when he goes home to an ordinary wife and kid, both of which he absolutely adores, even if they don't know it.
They fact is, they both believe that he is a computer salesman. Harry's frequent and necessary lies for the sake of his work have formed something of a disconnection between him and his family. It's the family and marital issues as well as the terrorist threat that are balanced so well and effectively that we have to keep watching to see how things are finally resolved. Also, this is Schwarzenegger at his totally captivating and very best.
The action is best described as very well paced, very well structured, and very well choreographed. It may be of interest to the reader that there are some action shots that are straight out of The Matrix( or rather, there are shots in The Matrix taken straight out of True Lies). For a movie running at 144 minutes long, it's amazing that True Lies successfully has you absolutely gripped by it's over-the-top yet somehow very intense action throughout it's entirety.
As for the adjoining plot involving Harry Tasker's marital problems...I will tell you that the antagonist of this plot is played by none other than Bill Paxton, in one of his most absolutely hilarious roles yet.
Perhaps one of the only major complaints I have is a stylish yet obscenely sexual scene right at the mid-act climax that very nearly bogs down the pace of the film. It's relevant and short, and it's not particularly explicit, but it's just far too gratuitous for my taste. Overall, I guess it's not really a kid movie, if you know what I mean. Other than that, this film is action, romantic, and comedic gold.
8 out of 10