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Looking Back at Arnie’s Eraser (1996)

Plot: John “The Eraser” Kruger is the top gun in the US Marshall Witness Protection scheme; he erases their past and deals with their future. His latest assignment is whistle-blower Dr. Lee Cullen, who has evidence against a major arms corporation that’s selling weapons to terrorists with the collusion of rogue enemy agents within, but there is danger nearer home for Kruger, from within his own department.

This could just be the drunken ravings of a mad man but I still consider Eraser one of the last true Arnie movies; yes, he has done many movies since but his recent fare has never really captured the action greatness he is known for. I stand by that End of Days is a quality movie too.

Eraser has a high bodycount, Arnie spewing one-liners and a great villain in James Caan. I would watch Caan read the sports page from a news paper and it would still be fascinating as he has such screen presence. He is clearly relishing playing a bad guy and U.S. Marshal Robert DeGuerin is one of my favourite characters of his.

It also boasts one of my all-time favourite scores from Alan Silvestri which I am sure The Simpsons used anytime they were parodying action movies. It has epic electric guitars and one of the most heroic action themes to date.

I always thought it could warrant a sequel or even a TV series with John Kruger protecting various people from deadly criminals. There was a kind of sequel in videogame form called Eraser – Turnabout  which was mostly a shooter but you were also required to solve puzzles.

Eraser has that sense of fun that the best Arnold movies have where it’s a wonderful escape from reality for a few hours. There are some spectacular action set-pieces including Kruger escaping from a plane and allegedly Schwarzenegger really did free-fall for about sixty-five feet. He was harnessed into a piece of stunt technology called a descender rig.

For me it’s all about that end sequence at the docks; Kruger literally smashes out of the wooden floorboards in slow motion, picks up the two rail guns and takes out the trash in true action hero fashion as he rescues his witness (Vanessa Williams).

In terms of flaws I thought there were a few moments where you could tell it was a double in the action scenes especially the opening when Kruger (wearing a balaclava rather conveniently) rescues a potential witness. He does some fast martial arts and you can just tell by the way he moves that it clearly is not Arnold.

There is also some rather unconvincing early CG with Arnie taking out an alligator while spouting the classic “You’re luggage” line but the dialogue alone makes the scene awesome.

I remember it took a while for the film to come out and had various behind the scenes issues like the director Chuck Russell and Producer Arnold Kopelson barely spoke to each other but because Arnie got along with both men he essentially acted as an intermediary to get the film completed.

Eraser may not be regarded as one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best films but I’ve always loved it and watch it regularly to this day.