Yet another action movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. James Cameron is back again with another explosive film and beautiful cinematography. I sat in the 10th row surrounded by digital sound and this huge screen---it was an amazing experience from the start.
Schwarzennegger is Harry Tasker, a secret agent, who has a tendency to be a bit reckless. Things go out of hand when he suspects his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) of cheating on him and Harry uses his secret agent powers to find out what is happening. In addition, there's a maniac leading an organisation called the Crimson Jihad who is also the focus of Harry's efforts. The climax begins when the two sub-plots overlap.
There are some interesting scenes shot in Georgetown (for the locals), the Florida Keys (where a nice nuclear explosion happens), and Geneva, Switzerland. The shots taken with the planes are very well done as are the bomb explosions, machine gun fire (particularly in the snow), and the horse/motorcycle chase. Cameron has wisely abandoned a serious approach and this ends up being more of a comedy than anything else. The only thing deep about about this movie is its parodoxical title. Everything else is done with computers.
Which brings me to the issue of entertainment in general. Why is that we spend two hours of our lives going to see such a movie? Perhaps it is an attempt to lend some meaning to our meaningless existences. Clearly the average person will probably never the action the Harry does and all we are doing is indulging in some fantasy when we indulge ourselves. And then the major emphasis on entertainment in general. It seems like we drown ourselves in a sea of entertainment (mostly technology based) simply so we are sure that every waking second is occupied and thus don't have to contemplate about the nature of our existence. We live our lives in quiet desparation because we hope our next moment will be better, and in order to satisfy this hope, given that we do not understand what "better" is, we think immersing ourselves in fantasies will help (to forget?).
That is a very defeatist view and there are better reasons. Technology has so progressed that we have much more time on our hands than we know what do with (doesn't seem that way now, does it?). In a sense, we are rushed for time because we have to fulfil our "entertainment" obligations. No longer do we have to work all day and even when we do, we accomplish a lot more in any given day than people 100 years ago did. So we spend our time entertaining each other, which isn't all bad. In a sense, most of the bare necessities in life (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) are automatically taken care of and we spend our times doing what we want. Of course, this is not the case in all walks of life, but it's tenable. Maybe there is hope after all.
The film definitely has a misogynistic and misanthropic tone. The whole family is not the ideal American one. Take Harry, who really overreacts when he suspects his wife of cheating (I'm sure he didn't earn many people's sympathy with his actions in the movie). I think he was depicted the worst---an over-possessive male without giving much. I think it was designed so people would hate him when he does subject his wife to his jealousy. Even the person Helen almost has an affair with (the fact that she didn't in the end argues against misogyny) is depicted badly. It is a classic case of where a boy can put a girl through the wringer and still come out on top (as illustrated by You've Got Mail and The X Files, for example).