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True Lies is a 1994 American action spy film written, directed and co-produced by James Cameron. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Art Malik, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov and Charlton Heston. It is a remake of the 1991 French comedy film La Totale![4] The film follows U.S. government agent Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), who struggles to balance his life as a spy with his familial duties.

True Lies
True Lies poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Cameron
Produced by
Screenplay byJames Cameron
Story by
Based onLa Totale!
by Claude Zidi
Simon Michaël
Didier Kaminka
Music byBrad Fiedel
CinematographyRussell Carpenter
Edited by
Distributed by
Release date
  • July 15, 1994 (1994-07-15)
Running time
141 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$100[2][3]–120[4] million
Box office$378.9 million[5]

True Lies was the first Lightstorm Entertainment project to be distributed under Cameron's multimillion-dollar production deal with 20th Century Fox, as well as the first major production for the visual effects company Digital Domain, which was co-founded by Cameron.

For her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress, while Cameron won the Saturn Award for Best Director. The film ultimately grossed $378 million worldwide at the box-office and was also nominated at the Academy Awards and BAFTAs in the Best Visual Effect category, and also for seven Saturn Awards.



Harry Tasker leads a double life: to his wife Helen and his daughter Dana, he is a computer salesman often away on business trips, while in reality he is a covert operative for a U.S. counter-terrorism task force called "Omega Sector". Harry and fellow Agents Albert "Gib" Gibson and Faisal infiltrate a party in Switzerland, where they learn of the existence of a terrorist group known as the "Crimson Jihad", led by Salim Abu Aziz. Harry suspects that American antiques dealer Juno Skinner has ties to Aziz, and visits her undercover as a corporate art consultant. Suspicious, Aziz and his men attempt to kill him, but Harry fights them off and loses Aziz in a pursuit; as a result, he misses the birthday party that his wife and daughter have arranged for him.

Harry heads to Helen's office the next day to surprise her for lunch, but overhears her talking to a man named Simon. He uses Omega Sector resources to learn that Simon is a used car salesman, who pretends to be a covert agent to flirt with Helen. Harry and other Omega agents, disguised, kidnap Helen while she is at Simon's trailer, and then frighten Simon into staying away from her. Using a voice masking device, Harry interrogates Helen and learns that due to his constant absence, she is desperately seeking adventure. Harry thus arranges for Helen to participate in a staged spy mission, where she is to seduce a mysterious figure (who is actually Harry himself) and plant a bug in his hotel room. Aziz's men suddenly burst in, kidnap the couple, and take them to an island in the Florida Keys.

Aziz reveals he has smuggled stolen MIRV nuclear warheads into the country via antique statues shipped by Juno, and threatens to detonate them in major U.S. cities unless the U.S. military leaves the Persian Gulf. He then orders the couple to be tortured; Harry (under a truth serum) finally confesses his double life to Helen, and then they escape to watch as Aziz has the warheads loaded onto vehicles. Harry leaves Helen to hide as he attacks Aziz's men, but Helen is captured by Juno and taken with the convoy on the Overseas Highway. Harry is rescued by Omega agents and pursues the convoy, sending two Harrier Jump Jets to stop it and destroy part of the bridge. Harry rescues Helen from Juno's limo before it careens into the ocean below.

Upon returning safely to the mainland, they quickly learn that Aziz and his men have taken control of a downtown Miami skyscraper and have kidnapped Dana, threatening to detonate the remaining bomb. Harry commandeers one of the jets to rescue his daughter. Faisal poses as part of a news team requested by Aziz, providing enough distraction for Dana to steal the ignition key and flee the room. Aziz chases Dana onto a tower crane when Harry arrives. Harry is able to rescue Dana, and after a tense struggle with Aziz, Harry eventually has him ensnared on the end of one of the plane's missiles, which Harry fires at a passing terrorist helicopter, killing Aziz and the renmants of his terrorist gang. Harry, Helen, and Dana are then safely reunited.

A year later, the Tasker's family integrity has been restored, and Helen has become another Omega Sector agent. Harry and Helen embark on a new mission together at a formal party, where they encounter Simon seducing one of the female guests. Helen and Harry intimidate Simon into fleeing, and the film ends with the couple dancing tango in celebration.



Schwarzenegger stated that while filming a scene with a horse, a camera boom hit the horse and "it went crazy, spinning and rearing" near a drop of 90 feet. Schwarzenegger quickly slid off the horse and stuntman Billy D. Lucas (who was one of Arnold's main doubles and closest friends) caught him; he concluded, "[this is] why I will always love stunt people".[6] Costing $100[2][3]–120[4][7] million to produce, True Lies was the first film with a production budget of over $100 million.[8] It was filmed over a seven-month schedule.[4]

Of the many locations that were used in the film, the Rosecliff Mansion was used for the ballroom tango scenes in the beginning of the film and the exterior of the Swiss chalet that Harry Tasker infiltrates is Ochre Court.[9] The ballroom dancing scene that closes the film, as well as the scenes in the lobby of the fictional Hotel Marquis in Washington, take place in the Crystal Ballroom of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.[10] The outdoor structures used by Azis's smuggling ring as a base of operations were a series of custom made Alaska Structures fabric buildings, leased to the production crew during filming.[11]


Box officeEdit

Opening in 2,368 theaters in the United States, True Lies ranked #1 in its opening weekend, earning $25,869,770. True Lies was a box-office success, earning $146,282,411 in the United States and $232,600,000 in the rest of world, totaling $378,882,411 worldwide,[5] making it third best-grossing movie of 1994.[12]

Critical receptionEdit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 72% based on 47 reviews, and an average rating of 6.6/10. The website's consensus states, "If it doesn't reach the heights of director James Cameron's and star Arnold Schwarzenegger's previous collaborations, True Lies still packs enough action and humor into its sometimes absurd plot to entertain".[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Despite the positive reviews, the film was criticized by the National Review as sexist, cruel, or even misogynistic, for its treatment of female characters, such as the hero (Schwarzenegger) using his agency's resources to stalk and frighten his wife.[16] Some Muslims perceived the film as conveying a strong anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice.[17][18][19]

In a negative review, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote:


For her performance, Jamie Lee Curtis received a 1994 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy.[21]

Award Category Recipient Result
Golden Globe Award Best Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Won
BAFTA Best Special Visual Effects John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis, Pat McClung, Jamie Dixon Nominated
Saturn Award Best Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Won
Best Direction James Cameron Won
Best Special Effects Won
Best Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Tia Carrere Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Bill Paxton Nominated
Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film - Nominated
Academy Award
(The Oscars)
Best Visual Effects John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis and Patrick McClung Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated
Best Comedic Performance Tom Arnold Nominated
Best Kiss Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated
Best Dance Sequence Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tia Carrere Nominated
Best Action Sequence Bridge Explosion/Limo Rescue Nominated
Eddie Award Best Editing Conrad Buff IV, Mark Goldblatt, Richard A. Harris Nominated
Japanese Academy Awards Outstanding Foreign Language Film - Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated

Cancelled sequelEdit

Cameron originally planned to make a sequel sometime in 2002, but he put his plans on hold once the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred in New York City, saying terrorism was no longer something to be taken lightly.[22] In a later interview, James Cameron stated there are no plans for a True Lies sequel, but he and Schwarzenegger had spoken about possibly working on a new project together once Schwarzenegger left office as Governor of California, which he did in 2011.[23]

In the film The Kid & I, Tom Arnold plays a fictional character based on himself. In that film, the character had starred in True Lies and is pursued by a fan and teams up with Henry Winkler and Linda Hamilton to make a sequel; Schwarzenegger and Curtis cameo as themselves.

In other mediaEdit

Video gamesEdit

Shortly after the film's release, video games based on True Lies were released for the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Gear & Game Boy consoles.


In September 2010, multiple websites reported Cameron developing True Lies as a possible television series with Dark Angel producer René Echevarria acting as showrunner and producer.[24][25]


True Lies
Film score by
Brad Fiedel and various artists
ReleasedJuly 19, 1994
LabelLightstorm/Epic Soundtrax

All music composed by Brad Fiedel, except where noted.

Track list
1."Sunshine of Your Love"Jack Bruce, Eric ClaptonLiving Colour5:17
2."Darkness, Darkness"Jesse Colin YoungScreaming Trees4:08
3."Alone in the Dark"John HiattJohn Hiatt4:46
4."Entity"Christian Leibfried, Geoff Haba, Bryan Tulao, David Robert GouldMother Tongue4:21
5."Sunshine of Your Love (The Adrian Sherwood & Skip McDonald Remix)"Bruce, ClaptonLiving Colour5:49
6."Main Title/Harry Makes His Entrance"  2:40
7."Escape from the Chateau"  2:41
8."Harry's Sweet Home"  1:06
9."Harry Rides Again"  7:05
10."Spying on Helen"  4:16
11."Juno's Place"  1:29
12."Caught in the Act"  1:29
13."Shadow Lover"  1:20
14."Island Suite"  6:55
15."Causeway/Helicopter Rescue"  7:56
16."Nuclear Kiss"  0:51
17."Harry Saves the Day"  8:26
Total length:70:35

Songs appearing in the film not included on the soundtrack album:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "TRUE LIES (15)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. August 9, 1994. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Fox, D., 1994. Movies: 'True Lies,' 'Forrest Gump' and 'The Lion King' are on target to break a record for non-holiday weekend ticket sales. Los Angeles Times, [internet] July 18. Available at Archived 2010-07-26 at Wikiwix [Accessed July 24, 2010].
  3. ^ a b Kempley, R., 1994. ‘True Lies’ (R) Archived 2011-12-11 at the Wayback Machine.. The Washington Post, [internet] July 15. Accessed July 24, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d "Schwarzenegger Heats Up the Summer with Action-Packed True Lies". Electronic Gaming Monthly (61). EGM Media, LLC. August 1994. p. 169.
  5. ^ a b "True Lies (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on February 26, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  6. ^ Schwarzenegger, Arnold. "IamArnold. AMA 2.0". Reddit. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  7. ^ Thompson, Anne (29 July 1994). "5 True Lies about James Cameron". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 16 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  8. ^ "First film with a $100 million budget". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  9. ^ "Movies Filmed in Newport RI - Hollywood loves the "City by the Sea"!". Archived from the original on 2009-12-07.
  10. ^ "Filming in Los Angeles - Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles Filming History - Filming in LA". Archived from the original on 2013-07-24.
  11. ^ "Alaska Structures Leases Fabric Buildings for Movie and TV Sets". Alaska Structures. Archived from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  12. ^ 1994 Domestic Grosses Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine..
  13. ^ "True Lies (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "True Lies Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on January 2, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  15. ^ "CinemaScore".
  16. ^ John Simon, "True Lies," National Review, August 29, 1994.
  17. ^ Names & Faces: "Muslims Protest Schwarzenegger's 'True Lies'" July 22, 1994 By New York Daily News, via Orlando Sentinel. Archived December 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Arab-Americans Protest 'True Lies'" Published July 16, 1994, The New York Times. Archived April 19, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ "Muslim leader wants 'True Lies' banned" Monday, September 26, 1994. The Gainesville Sun, page 3.
  20. ^ Turan, Kenneth (July 14, 1994). ""True Lies" is able to effectively kid itself"". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  21. ^ Jamie Lee Curtis – Awards & Nominations – MSN Movies Archived 2010-10-17 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  22. ^ "Sequel talk true or lies?". Archived from the original on 2012-07-12.
  23. ^ "Cameron Doubtful for TL2 but Hopeful for Another! Tom Arnold Claims Another Project with "Lies" Team!". 2009-05-08. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  24. ^ "James Cameron Adapting 'True Lies' For TV". 2010-09-13. Archived from the original on 14 September 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (15 September 2017). "'True Lies' Movie Rebooted As TV Series By Fox With McG, Marc Guggenheim & James Cameron Producing". Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.

External linksEdit