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Last Action Hero is a 1993 action comedy cult film 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. The film was released on June 18, 1993 by Columbia Pictures. It was the first Columbia Pictures film to use the 1993 Logo.


Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien), is a boy whose love of action movies (especially those of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is played by himself) keeps him out of school and in trouble. His favorite movie franchise is the fictional Jack Slater series, which is preparing for the release of its fourth installment.

On the day before the premiere of Jack Slater IV, Danny visits his friend Nick (Robert Prosky), an old man who runs a run-down movie theater in downtown New York Citymarker. He offers Danny a private screening of the film, an offer which Danny is quick to accept, especially when Nick offers him a gold-plated ticket which he claims was given to him by Harry Houdini. He tears the ticket in half, gives one half to Danny and puts the other in the ticket box.

Several minutes into the movie, the stub of the ticket begins to glow blue, and suddenly some dynamite thrown from within the movie lands in the theater, putting Danny into shock. Before he can escape, the dynamite explodes, and Danny vanishes.

Confused, Danny awakens in a moving vehicle, which he quickly discovers is driven by his "action hero," Jack Slater. He soon realizes that he was somehow transported into the film. He is excited to work with Slater in the movie world and tries to explain this to him, but Slater remains unconvinced.

Danny goes to great lengths to try and convince Slater that this is a movie. Slater seems to be oblivious to the many absurdities of the movie world, including those in his own precinct. A cartoon cat detective named Whiskers (Danny DeVito) partners with a female officer at the L.A.P.D. station. Female officers wander from the police garage dressed in "battle armor" typical of a video game.

After Danny's attempts to convince Slater of his true nature (including pointing out that Slater is unable to swear even when trying to) repeatedly meet with failure, he recognizes a mansion from the film's introduction. Knowing that it is where the "bad guys" are, Danny convinces Slater to check it out. The two find Tony Vivaldi (Anthony Quinn), the crime boss advertised as the villain for Jack Slater I, and his English henchman, Mr. Benedict (Charles Dance). Benedict overhears Danny discussing his knowledge of Benedict's role in the movie, and like Slater, not understanding he is in a movie, is intrigued to find out how Danny could come about such information.

Benedict follows the pair to Slaters ex-wife's house where he goes to visit his daughter. When Slater leaves to obtain some cigars, Benedict and several thugs raid the house and take the golden ticket from Danny. Slater Returns later and engages in a ridiculous over the top gun battle with the villians but Benedict escapes.

Benedict double-crosses Vivaldi, killing him, and awaits Slater's arrival at the mansion. When Slater arrives with Danny, he attacks Benedict and those him through a wall wereupon he vanishes into the real world before Slater's eyes. Puzzled, Slater follows Danny back through the portal into the real world, where the battle continues.

Both Slater and Benedict become acquainted with the nature of the real world. Slater, with the help of Danny's mother, realizes that there are more important things in the world than action, and decides that he will not return to the world that he now considers a lie. Meanwhile, Benedict continues with his evil ways and, realizing that in the real world it is possible for the "bad guys" to win, hatches a plan to kill the real-life Arnold Schwarzenegger at the premiere of Jack Slater IV, thereby causing Jack Slater to cease to exist.

Discovering this plan, Danny convinces Slater to go with him to the premiere. There, Slater encounters "The Ripper," (Tom Noonan) the villain from Jack Slater III. The Ripper attains entrance into the premier when the agent for the actor who portrayed him, Tom Noonan, escorts him past security. Danny yells to Slater that the Ripper is in the building, and just as Slater is about to shoot him, Arnold Schwarzenegger tackles him. Slater leaves the building into a crowd of fans who think he's Schwarzenegger, making his way up to the roof of the theater.

The Ripper has kidnapped Danny and, after throwing him from the roof, is electrocuted by Slater. Slater finds Danny who is clinging to the side of the building and pulls him to safety. As it appears that the danger has passed, Benedict, armed with a gun, confronts Slater. After tricking Slater into believing he is out of bullets, he shoots Slater in the chest. Benedict is then tricked by Danny into turning his back, at which point Danny disarms him. Slater retrieves Benedict's gun, and shoots him in the eye, causing the bomb in his glass-eye to detonate. This blows up Benedict and sends the ticket off the roof.

Landing in front of a nearby theater, the power of the ticket brings Death (Ian McKellen) from The Seventh Seal into reality. Slater is picked up by paramedics who determine he will likely die. Danny demands that they return to the theater so they can put him back in the movie world. Initially incredulous, the paramedics flee after Danny pulls Benedict's gun. Returning to the movie theater, they meet Death, who, after saying that he has come for neither Danny nor Slater, advises that Danny try to find the other half of the magic ticket.

Following Death's advice, he raids the ticket box and finds the second half. With the power of the ticket, Danny returns Slater to the movie. There, Slater's previously fatal injury turns out to be "just a flesh wound." Accepting his reality for what it really is, but deciding that he doesn't want to be an action movie cliche any longer, Slater drives off into the sunset.



  • Franco Columbu, Schwarzenegger's friend, roommate, and fellow body builder, makes an appearance during the opening credits as producer of the new Slater movie. Columbu also appeared in The Terminator as a T-800 in the future who sneaks into a base and attempts to kill Kyle Reese.
  • Tina Turner makes a cameo appearance at the climax of Jack Slater III as the mayor of Los Angeles; she tries to convince Slater not to enter a hostage situation.
  • When Danny and Slater arrive at LAPD headquarters, Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick appear outside the front door as Catherine Tramell (from Basic Instinct) and the T-1000 (from Terminator 2: Judgment Day), respectively. Stone had earlier played Schwarzenegger's wife in Total Recall.
  • Sylvester Stallone makes a cameo, posing as "The Terminator" for a poster promoting Terminator 2; to which Schwarzenegger states "He's a fantastic actor. That's his greatest performance yet". Danny, however, is horrified.
  • Model/actress Angie Everhart appears as a video store clerk. Danny comments on her as being too attractive to be working at a video store, at which point Jack responds "I agree. She should be working with us".
  • An animated cat named Whiskers was voiced by an uncredited Danny DeVito, who starred with Schwarzenegger in Twins.
  • During the argument between Jack and the Lieutenant, the TV behind the lieutenant can be seen to be playing Predator, another Schwarzenegger film.
  • During the premiere of Jack Slater IV in the real world, a number of celebrities make cameo appearances as themselves, including: Maria Shriver (Schwarzenegger's real-life wife), Little Richard, Entertainment Tonight host Leeza Gibbons, James Belushi, Damon Wayans, Chevy Chase, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Timothy Dalton.
  • As Slater and Danny go into the movie theatre to find the real Schwarzenegger, MC Hammer asks Slater: "Arnold! The deal is done, right? Slater V. The soundtrack."
  • Ian McKellen makes a cameo as Death, after a screening of Ingmar Bergman's film, The Seventh Seal comes to life.
  • Before the Hamlet sequence, wherein the Laurence Olivier version is played on a projector, the teacher who introduces the film is Joan Plowright, an English actress and Laurence Olivier's third wife. Noting her students' apparent ignorance of Olivier's storied career, she tells them they may remember him as Zeus in Clash of the Titans, one of Olivier's final roles.


Last Action Hero was billed at that 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, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Instead, the movie was given mixed reviews by critics, only earning a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 44 out of 100 on Metacritic, and grossed $USD15,338,241 on its opening weekend, for an average of $6,651 from 2,306 theaters, and ended its run with only $50,016,394 in the United Statesmarker but making an additional $87,202,095 overseas, totaling US$137,298,489 worldwide. In an A&E biography of Schwarzenegger, the actor (who was also the film's executive producer) says that the film could have done even better if not for 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 on the grounds that the movie would have lost millions of dollars in revenue for every weekend of the summer it ended up missing.

Years after the release of Last Action Hero, it was the subject of a scathing chapter called "How They Built The Bomb", in the Nancy Griffin's book Hit and Run which detailed misadventures at Sony Pictures in the early-to-mid 1990s. Among the details presented in this chapter were:
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger selected Last Action Hero as his next project in a close race against another Sony property, a comedy about a modern Tooth Fairy entitled Sweet Tooth, which remains unproduced as of 2009.
  • Universal moved Jurassic Park to June 11, 1993 well after Sony had decided on a June 18 release date for Last Action Hero.
  • The movie was rumored to be the first advertisement placed on a space-going rocket. As negative reviews came in from pre-screenings, the idea was quickly scrapped.
  • The film was capsized by a wave of negative publicity after a rough cut of it was shown to a preview audience on May Day. Sony then destroyed the test cards and the word-of-mouth proved to be catastrophic for the film.
  • The shooting and editing schedule were so demanding and so close to the June 18 release date that after the movie's disaster, a source close to the film said that they "shouldn't have had Siskel and Ebert telling us the movie is 10 minutes too long".
  • Sony was even more humiliated the weekend after the film opened, when the movie lost 47% of its opening-weekend audience and saw TriStar's Sleepless In Seattle open as the #1 new movie at the box office.
  • The final declared financial loss for the film was $26 million.
  • Last Action Hero was the first film to be released using SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound), but only a few theaters were set up for the new format, and many of those that were experienced technical problems with the new system. Insiders at Paramount reportedly referred to SDDS as "Still Doesn't Do Shit" .

The film has been better received over the years - some viewers see the film as a spoof on action film.


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.

There were three prop "Magic Tickets" created by Michael Marcus for the film. The first version was ripped on screen during the movie, the second version was ripped off screen and used later in the production of the movie after the halves of the first ticket were too damaged to be filmed further (these ripped ticket pieces from the first two versions were lost after production), the third version of the Magic Ticket (and only unripped version) was sold on August 20, 2008 by The Prop Store of London to a private collector in Dallas, Texas (known only as "Mr. X") for a sum of $1,650.00 USD.

Schwarzenegger received a salary of $15 million for his role in the film.


Music from the Motion Picture album

Track listing

  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 and the Ripper" - (Michael Kamen & Buckethead) – 3:43


"Dream On" is a live recording from MTV's 10th Anniversary special.

See also


  1. The Last Action Hero at Rotten Tomatoes
  2. Last Action Hero at Metacritic
  3. Last Action Hero at Box Office Mojo

External links

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