'90s Schwarzenegger action movie is extremely violent.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eraser is a 1996 action movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a witness protection specialist who must protect a witness from corrupted members of his own team. Even for an action movie from the 1990s, this movie is very violent; the climax alone is one massive battle with firearms, explosives, and Schwarzenegger getting impaled by a metal rod. One of the characters commits suicide, putting a gun to his mouth and pulling the trigger. It has punches, kicks, stabbings, vehicle explosions, characters covered in gasoline and almost set on fire, characters killed by a moving train. Schwarzenegger suffers a screw impaling his hand. Regular profanity is heard, including "f--k," and there's cigarette smoking and drinking. In one scene, there's gratuitous product placement.
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What's the Story?
John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is an "ERASER" for the witness protection program. As a U.S. Marshal, he leaves no trace of the identities of those he's hired to protect. His newest mission is to protect Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams) after she has discovered that the corporation she works for is selling their latest weapon -- a top-secret firearm that uses electromagnetic pulse waves to search and destroy targets -- on the black market. The FBI sends Cullen to infiltrate her boss's office and provide them with the evidence, but when she's discovered, it's up to Kruger to rescue her and make sure she isn't caught, captured, and killed. This mission is further complicated when it's revealed that other witnesses have been getting killed -- clearly one of the U.S. Marshals is a mole. After going on a different mission with his old friend Robert DeGuerin (James Caan), Kruger discovers who the mole is and who he's working for. Cullen is clearly his next target, and it's up to Kruger to find a way to protect her, reveal the mole, and stop the electromagnetic pulse weapons from getting into the wrong hands.
Is It Any Good?
This '90s action movie is enjoyable for its own sake, provided you don't think too much about the absurd plot twists and corny dialogue. The explosions and gunfire are loud and seemingly endless, and for almost every death, either Schwarzenegger or James Caan gets to make an ironically wry one-liner about the method in which the person died. On top of that, the story is beyond predictable -- it doesn't take a genius to figure out who the mole is, and the audience should be able to guess the next line of dialogue at least once -- and on top of that, the Italian American mafia characters are unbelievably trite.
And yet, Eraser can be entertaining. There are some moments of original and exciting action -- Schwarzenegger dodging an oncoming jet plane while trying to parachute to safety comes to mind. And unlike so many other action movies in which the female lead is basically helpless but good looking, Vanessa Williams' character gets the opportunity to kick some butt without anyone's assistance. It's a movie that neither surpasses nor falls short of expectations. Eraser is not a "deep thinker." Instead, it's a fun action movie from the bombastic '90s, from the lesser works of Sir Arnold.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about action movies. How does Eraser compare to other action movies you've seen?
Was the violence about average for a typical action movie, or was it more than what you usually see in an action movie? Was it necessary? Why or why not?
How was the female lead character portrayed? Was she given the chance to shine on her own, or was she always dependent on the male characters to get out of danger?
- In theaters: June 21, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: September 18, 2009
- Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Caan
- Director: Chuck Russell
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: January 3, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Surprisingly touching Schwarzenegger zombie flick.
Total Recall (1990)
Brilliant but disturbing and violent Schwarzenegger sci-fi.
Terrific sci-fi action, but too violent for some.
For kids who love action
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