The Best Tribute to Action Movies Ever: ‘Last Action Hero’

This movie loves action movies more than any person ever could.

by Kali Tuttle
Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero is a movie within a movie. Our main character, Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien), is a big action movie fan and sees all the new Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) films that come out. He gets more than he bargained for when he is sucked into an action film with the help of a magic movie ticket.

Every beloved action movie trope finds a home in Last Action Hero. It lauds each and every rote moment while also poking fun at it, something I think any action movie fan can relate to. Danny drinks it all in and savors every moment he gets to be an action hero. Arnold Schwarzenegger puts in phenomenal work as both the action hero and the actor playing him. Last Action Hero is the perfect mix of ridiculousness and straight-up fun.

Never Monologue

For anyone who has ever seen a James Bond film, you know that the number one rule as a Bond villain is having a long, menacing monologue before killing the titular character. Of course, the monologue allows enough time for the hero to break free of his restraints and subdue the villain.

Danny is well aware of this trope and brings attention to it when he and Jack Slater are handcuffed to a pole with the gun-wielding villain holding them hostage. Using the time the villain’s monologue gives him, Danny slips the cuffs and steals the gun. However, he is not immune to the monologue trope either, as he launches into a monologue that allows another villain to sneak up and get the drop on Jack and Danny.

It’s a hilarious moment that points out the major flaw that is talking in an action movie instead of just getting the job done. I love that both the heroes and the villains fall for the same trick. Both protagonists and antagonists can fall prey to running their mouths.

There’s Always a Guy in There!

Jack Slater takes Danny to a safehouse after his own house is destroyed by the bad guys. It’s nothing much, just a basic apartment in a dingy complex. Jack opens room number 69 (nice) to a practically empty place — no furniture or really any personal belongings at all. Before Danny can even close the front door, Jack pulls out a gun and shoots straight through the closet door. He slides open the door and a masked man in all black falls to the ground, dead.

Danny, incredulous, asks, “How’d you know there was a guy in there?”

Jack, seemingly unbothered, answers, “There’s always a guy in there. It costs me a fortune in closet doors.”

It’s another hilarious moment that preys on the audience’s knowledge of how action movies work and how ridiculous they are.

Bad One-Liners

Some of the best and cheesiest action movies have some great one-liners. Arnold Schwarzenegger alone has spoken some of the most quotable ones, like “I’ll be back” and “Get to the chopper!” In an over-the-top way, Last Action Hero is full of these awful one-liners. A few of my favorites:

“You wanna be a farmer? Here’s a couple of achers!”

“Iced that guy, to cone a phrase.”

“Got to catch the red-eye!”

Then there’s whatever this conversation was:

Even Danny recognizes how bad that one was. Did I still laugh at it, though? Of course.

The Good Guy Doesn’t Die

Near the end of Last Action Hero, much of the plot hinges on the amazing healing abilities of heroes in action films. Jack has been shot in the real world, which could actually be fatal as he isn’t invincible like he is in the Jack Slater films. It’s up to Danny to get Jack back to his action fantasy world where wounds can be healed much faster and much better than they can in reality.

It’s a genius way to incorporate how absurd action movie tropes like that are while also paying respect for how those tropes prop up some of our favorite action movies. How many times during Die Hard or John Wick should the main character have died but instead kept going?

I love the way that Danny is able to use his love and understanding of action movies to figure out how to save the day. Even though he’s just a poor kid who loves movies, he is still a hero at the end of the day.

The Mechanics of Reality

The best part of Last Action Hero is just getting to see how a big action hero would react to how things work in reality. When Jack is thrown into Danny’s real world, he tries to stop a car by blowing it up with a gunshot. However, when he shoots the car, it doesn’t explode.

Later, our bad guy, Benedict (Charles Dance), discovers he can murder someone in New York City with witnesses and no one seems to care (other than a guy who asks him to keep the noise down). However, he doesn’t realize that bullets are not limitless and his downfall comes from him not reloading his gun.

It’s little things like that make Last Action Hero such a fun ride. They’re things we don’t have to think about when watching most action movies, but we are forced to think about them the same way Jack is as we adjust to how reality works. It’s one of my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger films for this reason.

Follow MovieBabble on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and Kali Tuttle @tuttle_kali2.

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1 comment

Nick Kush June 21, 2023 - 10:11 am

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