REVIEW: Eraser (1996) - ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Eraser (1996)

Hard to believe “Eraser” came out 20 years ago. Is 1996 truly the last golden year of big, bravado, larger-than-life action filmmaking? I mean, it has Arnold Schwarzenegger at his prime kicking ass and taking names, it has Sonny Corleone himself as the main villain, and a high-concept plot with weaponry that straight-up borders science fiction. If anything would’ve made it better, it would be James Cameron.

But well, Chuck Russell will do for this one. Fresh off Jim Carrey’s “The Mask”, Russell directs the Austrian Oak through a pedestrian script (co-written by Walon Green of “The Wild Bunch”), with both star and director injecting much-needed energy into the film, making it another classic Arnie vehicle with a top shelf life. It’s not going to win any awards, but who gives a rat’s ass about that when Arnold Schwarzenegger is wielding dual EMP rifles and firing away at everyone, the image above says it better than words ever will.

Yes, those new-fangled rifles is the center of the plot around the film, where Vanessa Williams’ exec of the weapons manufacturing company gets marked for death by corrupt FBI agent James Caan, who intends to sell the tech to overseas people who aren’t very nice. Enter U.S. Marshal John Kruger a.k.a. ‘The Eraser’ (Good Lord, he was already cool with a name like John Kruger, and you nicknamed him The Eraseras well?!). Kruger specializes in making material witnesses disappear for good from their enemies, so naturally Williams’ plight is assigned to him by Kruger’s boss, played by a slightly-underused James Coburn. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do you much good when the enemy happens to be Kruger’s mentor, played by James Caan who is having a blast with his villainous role, spewing lines such as “I can’t believe you nailed me with this cheap piece of mail-order shit!

The film was made between the “Die Hard” and “The Matrix”, so it adheres to the rule of action movies of that era that the hero has to display some sort of vulnerability, be it by body shape or by the number of wounds inflicted upon him, or both. Kruger gets bloodily impaled twice in the film, and still manages to get medieval on any soul poor enough that tries to kill him. Cars, houses, warehouses explode. Bodies pile up right after they fly upon getting shot. It IS an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, after all, so vulnerability to him would kill John McClane 10 times over. His classic crowd-pleasing one-liners are still put to good use here though, the best one uttered after shooting a crocodile – “You’re luggage”.

On a technical note, “Eraser” is quite impressive, even for a 1996 film. The effects still hold up reasonably well today, and the stunts and explosions are refreshingly CGI-free. The EMP rifle sound like they belong in a Cameron Terminator film. Action is captured nicely with zero shaky-cam or rapid-fire editing; Russell wants the audience to savour every moment of the big action sequences – the best of which involves an airplane/skydiving sequence that ends brilliantly, and another one being the big come-uppance after Arnold’s chips are down during the film’s climax.

The film even has good humor to go in-between the explosions, the best of which hilariously involves Kruger going into a drag bar to ask for help from a mob witness he put there. It also has solid action movie music by Alan Silvestri, before his boring “Avengers” days. Plus, the always reliable Coburn and James Cromwell in strong yet brief supporting roles. It even literally ends with sheer manly badassery, abrupt yet wholly satisfying. What’s not to like?

It may not be his best, but it is perhaps the last true ‘classic’ Arnold, his last hurrah after “True Lies”. If you don’t already own it, buy it on Blu-Ray, crank up the sound system, grab some beers and burgers/steak, and enjoy the ride.




  1. The Night Rider

    July 31, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    We didn’t know how good we had it back in 1996. Van Damme in The Quest, Arnie in this.. and we thought they were ‘lesser’ movies for those guys.

  2. Andymovieman

    July 31, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    One of the best movies from Arnold Schwarzenegger and warner bros and producer arnold kopelson who also produced the fugitive, outbreak, Murder at 1600, us marshals, and the devils advocate. The closest we got to a sequel to true lies and commando and all. James Caan was the best bad guy. Alan silvestri did the best action scores in this film, judge dredd with Stallone, blown away with Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones, predator 1 and 2, etc. All in all, a great action movie and one of Schwarzenegger’s other last good pictures of the 90s par to true lies and end of days. Honestly it’s better than terminator 3 and batman and robin.

  3. Andymovieman

    July 31, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Arnold with rail guns makes me think he would have been perfect for duke nukem or even cable in dead pool 2 along with kurt Russell, Stephen Lang, and Ron Perlman.

  4. Andymovieman

    July 31, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    This is the unofficial spiritual sequel we never got to true lies and commando.

  5. Saverio

    July 31, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    this was sadly, one of his last best…….

  6. UpInHurr

    July 31, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve always loved this movie. This along with the 6th day, End of Days and Collateral Damage always seemed like classics to me, even if the critics didn’t care much for them or they didn’t do as well Box Office wise they are still Arnie at his best. Even in End of Days, I mean come on, It’s Arnie taking on the Devil!! Fucking Satan never had a chance….

    • Andymovieman

      July 31, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      I agree. I liked end of days, the 6th day and collateral damage too.


    July 31, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    “buy it on Blu-Ray, crank up the sound system, grab some beers and burgers/steak, and enjoy the ride.”
    manly. a man’s mans night in.

    to borrow a phrase from another Chuck Russell movie. Vanessa Williams was ‘smokin’ in this

  8. jim

    July 31, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    The scene with the crocs was good…but the film is just a cartoon..I would like to have seen Arnie do that Crusades pic with Verhoeven which got cancelled around this time.The other missed opportunity was Ridley Scott’s Last Man On Earth. Those are the two great “might-have-been” ‘s in Arnie’s career. Either one sounds better to me than most of the stuff he did….I still say my favourite Arnie performance is in Sabotage.

  9. Mucho Macho

    July 31, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Eraser’s death toll👍

  10. Mucho Macho

    July 31, 2016 at 7:34 pm

  11. Mucho Macho

    July 31, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Another great review sir

  12. Mucho Macho

    July 31, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Why can’t we have movies such as this anymore?!
    oh yeah cause this generation needs a fucking maxi pad.

  13. ColonelBobi

    August 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I literally rewatched this last week. It wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it though Arnie and Caan carried the movie pretty well. Some good action scenes and one-liners are the least I expected from an Ahnuld movie back then. It is certainly watchable if you are a fan.

  14. Barney Ross

    August 1, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Materpiece the last great Arnold movie, anything lower than 10/10 is wrong