June 21, 1996 in Seven

Another Round Of Arnold

Michael H. Price Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 

Wait until it lapses to the video edition, and the title of “Eraser” will become grimly prophetic: This Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner is no keeper, despite the occasional burst of excitement and scattered quotable wisecracks. The film itself could be erased without any great sense of loss.

The bigger Schwarzenegger gets in Hollywood, the more he retrenches into overblown variants on the kind of low-rent B-movie mayhem that he seemed proud enough to be committing back before he gained some clout. “Eraser” finds the big Austrian playing a relentless federal agent, an enforcer who lets nothing stand in his way as he strives to make certain that beneficiaries of the witness protection program get lost and stay lost.

Hence his nickname here, “Eraser.” The job at hand involves a witness (Vanessa Williams) who knows way too much about a supergun with an X-ray scope and some well-connected bad guys who intend to sell a carload of these weapons to hostile interests.

The Tony Puryear-Walon Green screenplay is cut from the same cloth as a competing summer-season movie, “Mission: Impossible.” The plot is moved largely by a conflict between hotshot agent Schwarzenegger and his boss, played with scenery-chomping zeal by James Caan. Most of the characters exist merely to be disposed of with as much combustible violence as possible.

Director Charles Russell saves most of the excitement for an airborne finale involving a skydiving pursuit and a blazing runaway jet. The thrills are otherwise desultory and promptly forgettable once they have run their course. A possible exception is Schwarzenegger’s confrontation with a horde of rampaging alligators; listen closely for Schwarzenegger’s offhand remark to one of the more aggressive ‘gators.

Schwarzenegger is business as usual, which is to say he’s entertaining enough without having much of consequence to do. Williams’ acting is far better than the film requires - a show of genuine patriotic conviction. In all, “Eraser” is a movie of plain generic competence, as substantial as sugar floss.

MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: “ERASER” Locations: East Sprague, North Division and Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Charles Russell, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Coburn Running time: 1:55 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Eraser:” Duane Byrge/The Hollywood Reporter: Suffice it to say the story barrels toward an ultimate, fiery action showdown and includes along the way some big-caliber stunts. There’s a truly breathtaking scene of Arnold parachuting from a plane that easily knocks out the season’s previous white-knuckler contenders. In general, the second half of the movie is well-scoped and hits its proper targets. Ted Anthony/AP National Writer: Cerebral it’s not, which is vaguely disappointing, because its trailers implied such an approach. Then again, the words “cerebral” and “Schwarzenegger” are rarely seen together in sentences other than this one. That said, “Eraser” definitely works as what it is - an exciting conspiracy adventure with cool gadgets, absolutely superior action sequences, a luminous Vanessa Williams and even a requisite Ahnold catchphrase.

These sidebars appeared with the story: “ERASER” Locations: East Sprague, North Division and Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Charles Russell, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Coburn Running time: 1:55 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Eraser:” Duane Byrge/The Hollywood Reporter: Suffice it to say the story barrels toward an ultimate, fiery action showdown and includes along the way some big-caliber stunts. There’s a truly breathtaking scene of Arnold parachuting from a plane that easily knocks out the season’s previous white-knuckler contenders. In general, the second half of the movie is well-scoped and hits its proper targets. Ted Anthony/AP National Writer: Cerebral it’s not, which is vaguely disappointing, because its trailers implied such an approach. Then again, the words “cerebral” and “Schwarzenegger” are rarely seen together in sentences other than this one. That said, “Eraser” definitely works as what it is - an exciting conspiracy adventure with cool gadgets, absolutely superior action sequences, a luminous Vanessa Williams and even a requisite Ahnold catchphrase.

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