Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero
Directed byJohn McTiernan
Produced byJohn McTiernan
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Written byZak Penn
Adam Leff
Shane Black
David Arnott
StarringArnold Schwarzenegger
F. Murray Abraham
Charles Dance
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyDean Semler
Editing byRichard A. Harris
John Wright
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date(s)June 18, 1993
Running time130 min
IMDb profile

Last Action Hero is a 1993 action comedy directed by John McTiernan. The film is a satire of the action genre and its clichés. The film includes within it several parodies of action films, in the form of films within the film.

The film tells the story of Danny, a young boy who likes action movies, particularly those featuring action hero Jack Slater. It is established within the film that Slater is portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays himself as well as portraying Slater. Thanks to a "magic ticket", the lines between reality and the movie world blur as Danny is catapulted into Jack Slater IV.


Last Action Hero follows the story of Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien), a boy whose love of action movies keeps him out of school and in trouble. Danny idolizes Arnold Schwarzenegger (who plays himself), particularly Schwarzenegger's character Jack Slater. ("Jack Slater" is a completely fictional character who appears within the films that exist in the actual movie.)

Danny's obsession with television and movies leads him to befriend an old man named Nick, who runs a beat-up old cinema in downtown New York City. Nick offers Danny a private screening of the new Jack Slater film, Jack Slater IV. Nick then reveals a gold-plated ticket from his pocket and gives it to Danny. Nick tells Danny the ticket was given to him from Harry Houdini, and that it contains magic powers. Danny uses the ticket to enter his private screening.

Danny excitedly begins watching Jack Slater IV During a car chase scene, the stub of the "magic ticket" begins to glow blue. Suddenly, the action from the movie spills into the theater, and Danny is himself thrust into the movie.
Enlarge picture
Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Jack Slater, and Austin O'Brien as young Danny Madigan
Danny ends up accompanying Slater, trying to convince him that he's a fictional character inside a movie. Slater is unconvinced. Eventually Danny uses his knowledge of the Jack Slater story line to help Slater solve mysteries in Jack Slater IV.

The two run into Tony Vivaldi, the crime boss in Jack Slater IV, and his henchman Mr. Benedict (Charles Dance). Benedict overhears Danny discussing his knowledge of Benedict's role in the movie, and -- like Slater, not understanding he himself is in a movie -- is intrigued to find out how Danny could come about such information. Benedict obtains the magic ticket. He discovers its ability to allow him to travel to the real world, but he is reluctant to try it.

Benedict double-crosses Vivaldi, killing him. Benedict awaits Slater's arrival at the mansion. When Slater arrives with Danny, Slater grabs Benedict and throws him at the butler, only to see them both vanish into a wall.

Slater is puzzled. "Usually when I do that it leaves a hole," he muses. Danny guesses that Benedict has the ticket and is now in the real world, Danny's world. Danny convinces Slater that they need to go through and stop Benedict while the hole is still open. The pair step through to see Benedict escaping out of the theater. They give chase but Benedict escapes. Danny returns to his apartment, with Slater following, bewildered.

Danny and Slater hunt for Benedict. Benedict discovers that if he can kill the real Arnold Schwarzenegger, Slater too will die. Benedict uses the ticket to enter other films, and collects "The Ripper", an antagonist from Slater's earlier films. The Ripper attempts to kill Schwarzenegger, but Danny and Slater foil him and the Ripper escapes to the roof. Slater and Danny pursue him; Slater eventually electrocutes the Ripper and saves Danny, but just as the duo think it's over, Benedict shows up and shoots Slater, giving him a mortal wound -- something impossible in the film world, and an apparent fate that Slater does not comprehend. Danny, distraught and infuriated, knocks Benedict's gun over to Slater. Earlier in the film, we learn that Benedict has a glass eye, and that in its stead he often uses cleverly concealed James Bond-like gadgets, such as timed explosives. Slater shoots Benedict's "bomb" glass eye, causing it to explode, killing Benedict.

Seeing that Slater is actually dying from his bullet wound, Danny races to find the magic ticket so that he can return Slater to within Jack Slater IV.

Danny finds the ticket and activates its magic, returning Slater back to his movie world where the fatal injury turns out to be "just a flesh wound". Slater's life is saved. Danny and Slater share a moment about believing in each other. Slater then returns to "his" world back on the job winding up his police chief by telling that the two of them are fictional and Slater wants to stop shooting people and blowing buildings up.

The movie ends with Nick and Danny exiting the theatre. Behind them, on the cinema screen, is a parting shot of Slater riding into the sunset in his car, waving backward at the audience.



Last Action Hero was billed at the time as "the next great summer action movie" and many movie insiders predicted the film to be a huge blockbuster, especially following the success of Schwarzenegger's previous film, .[1]

Instead, the movie was panned by critics and grossed only $50 million in the United States and an additional $87 million worldwide, totaling US$137 million (a disappointment considering the $85 million budget).[2] In an A&E biography of Schwarzenegger, the actor (who was also the film's executive producer) says that the film failed due to bad timing, since it came out a week after Jurassic Park, the biggest movie phenomenon of that year. Schwarzenegger states that he tried to persuade his co-producers to postpone the film's June 18 release in the US by four weeks, but they turned a deaf ear. Some in the film industry believe that the movie would have been successful (or at least recovered its production costs) if it had been released in mid-July, at the peak of summer.

Another theory has suggested that the poor reaction to the movie was partly due to a belief that the general public did not understand the theme, expecting a serious action epic but instead getting a film laced with a large amount of comedy. Whether this is true or not remains unknown. However, public reaction to the similarly comic but less cartoony True Lies has appeared to be more favorable.

Despite its box office failure, the movie has become somewhat of a sleeper cult hit, and is also regarded in some quarters as a very cerebral science fiction film, which explores the concepts of alternate reality in a meaningful way. The movie has also gained some admiration as a satire on the action genre , as it intentionally parodies almost every action movie cliché.


Last Action Hero was an original screenplay by Zak Penn and Adam Leff, meant to parody typical action film screenplays of writers such as Shane Black. Zak Penn noted himself that it was ironic that the studio then had Shane Black rewrite the script. The original screenplay differs heavily from the finished film and is widely available to read online. Although it was still a parody of Hollywood action films it was set almost entirely in the film world and focused largely on the futile cycle of violence displayed by the hero and the effect it had on people around him. Due to the radical changes Zak Penn and Adam Leff were eventually credited with the story of the film but not the screenplay, which is noted as being unusual for a film based on an original screenplay.[3]


Film references and connections

  • At the beginning of Jack Slater IV, a credit reads "A Franco Columbu Film". Franco Columbu was Schwarzenegger's long time friend and training partner when the two were bodybuilding and competing in the Mr. Olympia competition.
  • After the explosion at Slater's favorite second cousin's house, the black police officer is heard saying, "Two days 'til retirement," quoting Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) along with a saxophone riff imitating the signature music of the Lethal Weapon series.
  • When Danny is trying to convince Slater that he is in a film, he tries to find a Schwarzenegger film in a video store. He finds a poster for , but to his surprise, the poster shows Sylvester Stallone as the Terminator. Stallone's image on the poster even matches the theatrical poster for Judgement Day, albeit with Stallone's head in place of Schwarzenegger's. The only other change is the tagline which reads "It's Nothing Personal" instead of "This Time It's Personal".
  • In the novelization of the film, Danny warns Schwarzenegger to be wary of Benedict because he "almost took out Bruce Willis and Bill Murray". This line may suggest that the role of Benedict was originally intended for William Atherton, who played the role of "Richard Thornburg" in Die Hard (1988) and against Bill Murray as "Walter Peck" in Ghostbusters (1984), albeit as a comic foil rather than a true villain.
  • Several games of chicken are played throughout the film, with progressively deteriorating outcomes. The first shows Slater in the film world, easily following the "rules" of action movies and offing the bad guys. In the second, Danny attempts to ride a bicycle at the villains' oncoming car, before exclaiming at the last moment that he is not the hero but, in fact, the comic sidekick in Jack Slater IV, and swerves out of the way. (Briefly airborne, Danny and his bicycle are silhouetted against the moon, in allusion to E.T. (1982).) In the real world, Slater attempts to play chicken against Benedict, but as the "rules" of the film world do not apply, he ends up in a head-on collision with Benedict's car.
  • After the second 'chicken' scene, Danny and Slater argue over whether Benedict is dead, during which Danny references a character in Die Hard; the Die Hard theme is then heard in the background. Later in the film, when Slater is trying to rescue Danny while he is hanging from a ledge, Slater says "Please, God, don't let me die." which was also said by Bruce Willis' character in Die Hard.
  • While in the movie world, Danny warns Slater that his friend John Practice (F. Murray Abraham) killed Mozart (which Slater interprets as "Moe Zart"), a reference to the film Amadeus (1984), in which Abraham played Antonio Salieri. In a later scene in Danny's apartment, when his mom is talking to Slater, Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro (audio file) is played and discussed.
  • Frank McRae is seen as Slater's superior officer, in a similar role to the one he portrayed in 48 Hrs.
  • The movie posters for Bram Stoker's Dracula can be seen in the movie rental store and in the newspaper.
  • Joan Plowright, as Danny's English teacher, shows her class the 1948 film of Hamlet, which starred her real-life husband Laurence Olivier. Humorously, she acknowledges the students' ignorance of the legendary British actor, musing that they may remember him from Clash of the Titans, an undistinguished yet relatively-recent film in Olivier's career, where he played the god Zeus.


  • In the scene leading up to the climax of "Jack Slater III", Jack contemptuously dismisses the Lieutenant Governor with a punch to the face and the line "When the Governor gets here, call me". Taken in conjunction with the fact that Slater lives in California, this has become something of an example of life imitating art.
  • This was the first movie to use Sony's 8 channel digital sound format SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound). [4]
  • The film featured Art Carney's final film appearance.
  • Steven Spielberg was offered the chance to direct the film, but he turned it down in order to make Schindler's List instead. <ref name="IMDb" />
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger was paid $15 million for his performance. <ref name="IMDb" />
  • It was the first film to be advertised in space. An unmanned NASA rocket, launched by Schwarzenegger, had the film's title graffitied onto its side, costing $50,000. <ref name="IMDb" />
  • It is said that Last Action Hero didn't fare as well as it could have because competition from Jurassic Park; this was parodied in a Disney Adventures comic strip. The January 1994 issue featured Mr. Hamhead's "Drastic Park" where dinosaur toys and merchandise came to life to attack Drs. Rant, Prattler, and Iam Malcontent; grandchildren Dim and Lax; and lawyer Don Generic. They were saved by the Last Action Figure who promptly destroyed the toy dinosaurs with blowtorches, saying "MELT, sauroid competitive merchandise! Summer vas supposed to be MINE!"
  • The song "Two Steps behind" by Def Leppard was changed for the movie to include an orchestra in the background. The original version of the song is acoustic.
  • Alice in Chains boasted that the movie would be the top box-office seller of all time prior to the film's release. (Alice in Chains had written songs "What the Hell Have I" and "A Little Bitter" for the film's soundtrack)
  • The Simpsons episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" pokes fun at the film's poor showing.
  • The Married... with Children episode "Banking on Marcy" also makes fun of the film's poor reception. They are making fun of themselves, as Married with Children and Last Action Hero are both owned by Columbia Pictures.
  • The Critic pokes fun at the movie when a trained seal that reviews movies is tamed by being threatened to being forced to watch "Last Action Hero."
  • This was Bridgette Wilson's first movie role. She insisted on performing all of her own stunts, refusing to use a double, because "I wanted to be fully in touch with my character; otherwise, it wouldn't have felt real for me." Later, Bridgette was openly disappointed that all but two of her scenes were cut from the movie; most of Wilson's better footage, according to herself, was left on the cutting room floor.


Music from the Motion Picture album

Last Action Hero: Music From The Original Motion Picture
Enlarge picture
Last Action Hero: Music From The Original Motion Picture cover
Soundtrack by Various Artists
Released May 8, 1993 (1993--)
Genre Rock
Heavy Metal
Length 54:19
Label Columbia Records
Professional reviews
  1. "Big Gun" - (AC/DC) – 4:24
  2. "What the Hell Have I - (Alice in Chains) – 3:58
  3. "Angry Again" - (Megadeth) – 3:47
  4. "Real World" - (Queensrÿche) – 4:21
  5. "Two Steps Behind" - (Def Leppard) – 4:19
  6. "Poison My Eyes" - (Anthrax) – 7:04
  7. "Dream On" - (Aerosmith) – 5:42
  8. "A Little Bitter" - (Alice in Chains) – 3:53
  9. "Cock the Hammer" - (Cypress Hill) – 4:11
  10. "Swim" - (Fishbone) – 4:13
  11. "Last Action Hero" - (Tesla) – 5:44
  12. "Jack the Ripper" - Michael Kamen with Buckethead – 3:43

See also


External links

John Campbell McTiernan, Jr. (born January 8, 1951) is an American movie director, best known for his action films. He was born in Albany, New York and was an M.F.A. graduate of the AFI Conservatory.
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John Campbell McTiernan, Jr. (born January 8, 1951) is an American movie director, best known for his action films. He was born in Albany, New York and was an M.F.A. graduate of the AFI Conservatory.
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Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ]
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Zak Penn (born 1968) is a screenwriter and director who is known for writing and directing Incident at Loch Ness and co-writing the script for .

The screenplay for Last Action Hero, for which he received a Story By
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Shane Black

Birth name Shane Black
Born November 16 1961 (1961--) (age 47)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ]
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F. Murray Abraham

Birth name Fahrid Murad Ibrahim
Born September 24 1939 (1939--) (age 68)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Charles Dance

Charles Dance

Born September 10 1946 (1946--) (age 61)
Redditch, Worcestershire

Charles Dance
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Dean Semler (born 1943, in Renmark, South Australia, Australia) is an Australian cinematographer. Over his career, he has worked as a cinematographer, camera operator, director, second unit director, and assistant director.
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John Wright is an ACE-certified film editor. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for his work on The Hunt for the Red October (1990) and Speed (1994). He has recently edited films such as X-Men (2000), Rollerball (2002), The Passion of the Christ (2004), and Glory Road (2006).
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June 18 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.


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Comedy film is genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humor. It is one of the oldest genres in film, as some of the very first silent movies were comedies. Comedy, unlike other film genres, puts much more focus on individual stars, with many former stand-up comics
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John Campbell McTiernan, Jr. (born January 8, 1951) is an American movie director, best known for his action films. He was born in Albany, New York and was an M.F.A. graduate of the AFI Conservatory.
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Satire (from Latin satura, not from the Greek mythological figure satyr[1]) is a literary genre, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision,
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A genre [ˈʒã:rə], (French: "kind" or "sort" from Greek: γένος (genos)) is a loose set of criteria for
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In contemporary usage, a parody (or lampoon) is a work that imitates another work in order to ridicule, ironically comment on, or poke some affectionate fun at the work itself, the subject of the work, the author or fictional voice of the parody, or another subject.
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Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ]
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Austin O'Brien

Born May 11 1981 (1981--) (age 26)
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Austin O'Brien (born May 11, 1980[1] or 1981) is an American actor.
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Harry Houdini (March 24, 1874 – October 311926), whose real name was Ehrich Weisz (which was changed to Erich Weiss when he immigrated to America), was a Hungarian magician, escapologist (widely regarded as one of the greatest ever), stunt performer, as well as
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Charles Dance

Charles Dance

Born September 10 1946 (1946--) (age 61)
Redditch, Worcestershire

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James Bond 007 is a fictional British agent[1] created in 1952 by writer Ian Fleming, featured in twelve novels, two anthologies, and a film series.[2]
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Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ]
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