Last Action Hero in UHD Blu-Ray: John McTiernan’s audio commentary is collector’s item

Last Action Hero
Sony Pictures

Its failure spelled the end of the 80s and bodybuilding stars. The film has been available since June 16 on UHD Blu-ray and is cut into slices by its director in an anthological audio commentary.

A historic flop at its release, this fantasy with a brilliantly prophetic title put an end to the reign of the Hollywood “big arms” and their mega-inflationary mega-blockbusters. Crunched raw by Spielberg’s digital dinos in the summer of 1993, Last Action Hero fully embraced its destiny as a final work, engulfing at the same time its director, its star, its soundtrack, its aesthetics, its method of production, its promotional strategy and all the tables of the Law of the 80s. It was about a sad New York kid who found himself propelled by magic in a film with typical Californian excess and inhabited by his favorite star: Arnold Beckenbauer, sorry, Schwarzenegger. Last Action Hero, that was it: Pirandello for the little ones, The Purple Rose of Cairo, the blockbuster version of summer; a real enchantment, a total anomaly, a monster flop. It was not the tail of a comet which came to pass in silence above our heads, but rather a Big Bang, really very “big” and violently “bang”, from which was going to emerge a new world, precisely the one in which we live, that is to say without stars, without pummelers, without fireworks and without John McTiernan. History will therefore remember that the last action hero was called Jack Slater, that he liked puns and cigars and that he finished his race in a bad dying state in the back of a New York ambulance. To the following.


Almost thirty years later, the film has finally become a real pop object whose big surges of “meta” fever greatly excite spectators of the 21st century – whereas those of the previous century did not understand it. It is also found very nicely edited in UHD today, thanks to a popular vote launched by its Sony-Columbia studio on the internet. Last Action Hero won the day and found himself a stone’s throw from the good big classics adored by Americans like Mr. Smith in the Senate, An extraordinary team or Jerry maguire, excuse the little. In fact, the edition that we find today in the bins is called “prestige”, that is to say that the facelift of the film is very neat and that the editorial work was carried out conscientiously. There is therefore a good ten minutes of cut scenes, which no one had ever seen before, and especially an audio commentary recorded recently by His Majesty John McTiernan in person – which we had not heard from since at less … Houla! Suffice to say that the last time we saw such an exciting program appear on the back of a cover goes back a long way. Let’s say at least to the French edition of 13th warrior by … John McTiernan.

John McTiernan: “How is it possible to watch a movie called Captain America?”

Do not see it as an obsession on our part: the filmmaker, however little pampered by the studios, has indeed in his bag several reference video editions. They are often populated with incredibly pedagogic audio commentaries (it is claimed that those of Predator and of crystal trap are worth all the schools of cinema in the world), never-before-seen scenes looooong fantasized (the alternate ending ofA day in hell where McClane and Gruber play Russian roulette with a rocket launcher) or great documentaries (the meticulous investigation into the director’s cut version of the 13th warrior, mentioned a few lines above). Because the workmanship of his films is often splendid, their production was hectic and he is the best exegete of his work, John McTiernan is probably one of the best possible clients for any collector’s edition worthy of the name.

To this day, we are still awaiting a hypothetical long version of his Rollerball, but we will be satisfied for the time being with this beautiful edition of Last Action Hero, a film that its author has, ironically, always wanted to plan. It is also through this very thorny subject that the filmmaker will launch his audio commentary. After introducing himself very briefly and while Slater is already multiplying the punchlines in both original and French (“Do you like omelets? Here, I’ll break your eggs“), McT begins to beat his ass:”We edited the film while we were still shooting it … Eight and a half months between the first clap and the theatrical release. I didn’t have time to polish it. It’s all my fault, the editors have nothing to do with it. And I want to apologize for that.“A quick passage in the cut scenes section, precisely, confirms it: not much to eat except a very nice sequence where a confused Jack Slater is approached by kids who come to talk to him about Total Recall and a new ending that focuses on the relationship between the film’s young hero and his mom – all wrapped up via a very (very) beautiful crane shot. Not bad, but it does look like, for once, McTiernan’s bin was light-hearted.

Last Action Hero
Sony Pictures


So we go back to the audio commentary where the filmmaker’s autoflagellation number will still last for a good 120 minutes: “This film is far too serious, it lacks gags, irony. He should have looked like Kurt Vonnegut, but he didn’t, and I apologize for that ”; “Cinema is prose and I didn’t find the right one here, and I apologize for it.“;”It is not known if the film is a comedy or an action film, it should have been chosen, and I apologize for that.“;”I wanted to tell a story of friendship full of candor and I found myself managing a huge barnum with extras and explosions all over the place, I did badly, and I want to apologize …“;”You might have expected less negative comments from me on the movie since you just bought it … I sincerely apologize. “

All of this ends up causing some great unintentional comic moments. Especially when the filmmaker remains unmoved by perfectly delusional sequences (the smoke coming out of the commissioner’s ears, “This cat is one of my best men“, the Dobermans who end up in a pyramid,”Leo The Prout will let go of the gas“…) which he executes all laconically:”Pfff, this film is way too serious … and I’m sorry for that.“Obviously McT is right: there is a huge technical flaw in this object, a profound imbalance between its nature (a postmodern fairy tale) and its invoice (a $ 100 million kaboomerie). are only worth when looking at him with the glasses of his time. Today, the “big arms” have become funny old gentlemen, they no longer bring back a kopeck, are no longer found in figures in Happy Meals, and Last Action Hero reveals a candor and naivety that have always been there, but which were once buried by Hollywood machinery. It’s not quite Mr. Smith in the Senate, we agree, but it is indisputably a “cute movie for little ones“as McT always fought to do. He doesn’t know it yet, obviously, but he only had to wait thirty years to achieve this victory. And this time, it really is not enough. ‘apologize.

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