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40 Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Films



He has many names: Arnie, Ah-Nuld, the Terminator, the Governator, the Austrian Oak, Conan the Republican, the Machine. But no matter how one chooses Arnold Schwarzenegger, one can not help but appreciate his importance for action films from the 80s to the present day.

What he is less famous for is his dramatic work, the films that do not need him to swing bazookas or machine guns or defeat bad guys. Arnold did not start as Arnold; For up to a decade in his film career, Hollywood has not gotten used to the incredible power of his charisma. It took a while for him to become the T-800. He made gems during that time, and since he stopped being the T-800 (if he really can not be what made him a name), he did others. Put on your best workout gear and get ready to make some biceps curls, because here it is: Men's Health 's complete ranking of all Schwarzenegger films (with the exception of truly insignificant things).

34th Dave 1

993, Himself

Here's the playing field: Dave (Kevin Kline), a loser who runs a temporary employment agency in DC, is drafted by the Secret Service as US President of A. (also Kevin Kline) to cover up the extramarital activities of POTUS. Dave has a supporting role, which personifies the president, which of course makes him the ideal candidate for this job. It's an airy movie, charming and sweet as an Aero milk chocolate. Call it "harmless" because Dave is ultimately a two-hour break from political reality, and it's so easy that you forget everything that happens in it, even as you watch it. It's not the worst movie on this list, far from it, but Arnold, who plays Arnold, does not even appear for a minute to stop Kline and a few kids from eating donuts. It's a question of whether Dave ever belongs here. But Arnold is adorable enough in his blinking moment, in which Dave demands inclusion, if only.

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33. Hercules in New York 1969, Hercules

So this is probably the worst movie on the list. Probably. Poor Schwarzenegger films are getting really bad, and if you grin now and raise your eyebrow and say, "Well, but Schwarzenegger was in a lot of bad movies!", You probably did not see Hercules in New York. The garbage like sabotage and red sonja makes it look like fine cinema. Be fair to Arnie: This is his first movie that was filmed when he was just 20 years old. About a decade and a half before he took over the roles that made him a star in the 1980s. It's Arnie before Arnie Arnie became. Damn it, the movie does not even credit him with his name, but instead deals with "Arnold Strong", no doubt because "strong" is only a bit easier to say than "Schwarzenegger". And the studio was synced over him too! Imagine this thing from Arnold & # 39; s point of view and you can not help feeling for the guy. Here's his first starring role, his big break and the forces that shit everywhere. Difficult entry into the industry. Maybe the movie is bad for the movie. Today, viewers do not know about it. We forgot it. This means that even Schwarzenegger can forget that.

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32) Around the World in 80 Days 2004, Prince Hapi

He'll probably want to forget about Around the World in 80 Days . In fact, he tried to do it; Schwarzenegger quietly refused to publicize Frank Coraci's disgusting interpretation of the classic novel by Jules Vernes, and he realized, almost too late, that his role as Turkish prince Hapi was an obstacle to his political aspirations. Around the World in 80 Days is so bad it's almost impressive, a waste of good source material, Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. The real problem for Arnold, however, was that Hapi was written as a frenzied, perverse stereotype and that Schwarzenegger's role as a brown face had to be borne. Bad movies are nothing new. They open every week in cinemas. But Around the World in 80 Days looks downright shameful today.

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31. The Villain 1979, Handsome Stranger

Five years after Blazing Saddles parodies the Western genre (while serving as a functional western), Hal Needham's The Villain a film of a similar purpose, but with none of Mel Brooks' crazy joke. It's about as blatant as Brooks, you could imagine, all western tropes and stereotypes with no real sense of humor, and every humor it has consumes in seconds. "I was named after my dad," Arnold always says, when a character notices to his very specific name: Handsome Stranger. It's a fine gimmick, but Needham's movie takes him down the floor, just as each one of his jokes falls into the ground, and that requires them to land.

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30. Scavenger Hunt 1979, Lars

The joke that granted Schwarzenegger in this Michael Schultz-Screwball-Ensemble is, to be honest, a pretty good one: In the biggest career of his career Arnold plays a physical education teacher whose sole role in the whole damned movie is throwing Tony Randall out the window with a single medicine ball throw. That's it. It is not a bad joke! It actually works, largely thanks to Arnold's large body and his unexpected comic timing – a gift he has used as a gift throughout his career. But the punchline of the joke signals the end of its time on the silver screen, so it's hard to rank Scavenger Hunt higher. It does not help that the movie is ashamed in one word, two hours of buffalo craftsmanship bordering on home-made. As so often, Arnold's performance is a climax, but he's not enough to push the movie up.

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29. Red Sonja 1985, Lord Kalidor

"What about Conan the Barbarian but without the joy?", Sums up the essence of Red Sonja . Quite handy Richard Fleischer's Sword and Magic movie of 1985 is supposedly a sequel to Conan the Barbarian from 1982 and 1945 from Conan the Destroyer but the producer Dino De Laurentiis could not put him in the Hands get the rights to the property, so the gang had to inspire it and let Arnold Kalidor play, the supporting muscle to Brigitte Nielsen's leadership. That would be fine if the movie was not such a slog. If you want to spit out a lifetime of Campy fantasy, keep the entire camp intact. However, take the story too seriously, as if you were making a handsome movie, rather than a movie in which Nielsen fights a wicked queen. Piece of swimsuit armor. Schwarzenegger called it the worst movie he ever shot, claiming he used it as a disciplinary measure when his children dropped out. Do you think he's kidding? Take a look at the movie itself, and you'll find that contemplation alone is punishment.

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28. The Kid & I 2005, Himself

Perhaps it is that a movie made with such pure intentions is a one-way ticket to hell. The best recommendation of The Kid & I can be found in the material of his production. Tom Arnold produced this film on behalf of his neighbors Alec Gores and his son Eric, who has cerebral palsy and whose favorite movie happens to be True Lies. In The Kid & I Arnold's washed-up actor character makes an appearance in which he makes a joke True Lies . Art and life bleed a little into each other, which is theoretically interesting; Also of theoretical interest is Penelope Spheeris (director of Wayne & # 39; s World, Suburbia and all three chapters of [19459004TheDeclineofWesternCivilization), who can not relate to Arnold's writing or meaning from the benevolent but nepotist motivation, which drives the impulse. Schwarzenegger is barely seen in the movie that appeared alongside Jamie Lee Curtis. Both play for no other reason than the fan service. They both feel better.

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27. Sabotage 2014, Agent John "Breacher" Wharton

There is much wrong with Sabotage which has nothing to do with Schwarzenegger – mainly its direction, courtesy of Suicide Squad patsy David Ayer. But while Schwarzenegger's films are running, it is shockingly sluggish in the face of his absurd violence, coupled with his obvious and uncomfortable fondness for his absurd level of violence. To call film violence "fetishistic" is its own kind of fetish, but the action of sabotage strikes. The arterial spray is not enough. Every action sequence is extremely uncomfortable without it really paying off. It's a weird kind of Ayer game, maybe he should show everyone that he has blows behind the camera while unintentionally revealing his limitations as a director. Sabotage is not a good movie. It's not even a good Schwarzenegger movie, though it clearly tries to be good. The structure of the film that was built around him lets him down.

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26. The Expendables 2010; The Expendables 2 2012; The Expendables 3, 2014, Trent's "Trench" Mauser

Why Arnold Schwarzenegger should just be a mystery paycheck gigs like the Exceptables franchise is a mysterious human replies. If someone invented time travel, send an envoy before 2010 to warn Arnie about this project. Each film is based on the worst, or at least the most exhausting, fan service, where each Action Cinema icon alternately blinks and nudges each other by referring to the franchise for which they are known. Moan. Schwarzenegger is here exclusively for the Expendables a central novelty, in which he observed types such as Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Jet Li, which are never substantively supported. Schwarzenegger is like Schwarzenegger, but if you want to honor the man's legend, just watch one of the films that set him rolling in The Expendables .

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25. End of Days [19999005] 1999, Jericho Cane

A good teaching tool for Schwarzenegger scholars, and not much else. End of Days is the first time that Arnold caught a look of disheveled, downcast and utterly helpless, as an indestructible man indeed far from his normal ground. This is an experiment with merit, but End of Days has nothing else to offer, which essentially means that the experiment is a colossal failure. How do you miss that? It's the damn terminator playing Satan one-to-one with Satan. This film sells itself. But End of Days barely managed to do that when he came up with a box-office hit that was only considered "viable" without being so profitable in the long run. Part of the problem could be that nobody on the screen has a good overview of what kind of movie they are in. By the way, Schwarzenegger undercuts himself while Gabriel Byrne, who plays the devil himself, leaves the tracks. It's a strange catastrophe, but it's no fun to get upset.

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24. Aftermath 2017, Roman Melnyk

If your concept of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an actor relies solely on his action iconography – the ridiculous body of his films, his monorail, his physique – then you've probably watched Aftermath and thought, "Huh! Who knew that Schwarzenegger could really act? "Schwarzenegger has for decades proven his acting skills in far better films than Aftermath a project that apparently has no meaningful use of his casting. The revenge element, in which the bereaved husband and father Roman joins the air traffic controller, who was responsible for the airborne collision in which the family claimed life, apologizes, sounds like a real-world event suitable for a terminator , Schwarzenegger is uncomfortable in a movie that encompasses reality. Seeing him fight through his figure is intriguing in a heartbreaking way, but he does not really care. His abuse is more of an insult than Elliott Lester's limp, lifeless direction.

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23. Collateral Damage 2002, Cpt. Gordon "Gordy" Brewer

Nothing is wrong with a good, old, poor Arnold actioner, apart from this good, old, poor Arnold actioner. This is the rare film in which Arnold himself restrains; Maybe it's just the perception of an outsider, but from start to finish his head is not in collateral damage. This could be a case in which life was stifled in real life: Collateral Damage did not land long before Schwarzenegger first sought a California office, not long after September 11th all nervously fly or travel near densely populated city centers. (Actually, September 11 caused a delay in the film's release.) Either the movie or Arnold had other things in mind than the American macho amateurs, for Collateral Damage considered this to be Star Pedigree like the action cinema. In addition to the status of Arnold Arnold as an action royalty, "standard" is referred to as "frustrating".

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22. Kill Gunther, 2017, Robert "Gunther" Bendik

Imagine, if you like, Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Mano Bites Dog by Benoît Poelvoorde not a very good movie Start with, but filtered by Saturday Night Live, and you have more or less Taran Killam's Killing Gunther . The idea is good enough: a crew of hitters, including Killam and Bobby Moynihan and Hannah Simone, kill the best dog of all hired killers, Gunther, just so Gunther thwarts them every turn. He is really so good. The problem is that the movie is not, and Gunther is barely in the movie, which means that Schwarzenegger is barely in the movie, which means you need more reason to get on with the movie beyond its appearance in its last half hour hang. Is a little Arnold still good Arnold? It may be. Killing Gunther has too little Arnold, and it's an embarrassing movie, even if he shows his face.

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21. Jingle All the Way, 1996, Howard Langston

It's no guilty pleasure, because if you like to watch a movie, there's nothing that you feel guilty about. But let's entertain the guilty pleasure as aesthetics. If that's the case, Jingle All the Way qualifies, and it's not even a question: this movie is crap, but in its particular stupidity it's amazingly observable. Perhaps it is the pleasure to see Arnold being outwitted in every possible turn of Sinbad. Maybe it's the confused joy that Arnold gets a blotto with a reindeer. Perhaps this is the Santa Clash fighting scene, which is a sort of Xmas battle scene, so to speak a preliminary Matrix Reloaded Burly Brawl, but with an army of Saint Nicks and the Terminator. It's a cheesy movie. It's a half-baked movie. It's a movie made with craftsmanship that barely fits "appropriate". But it is a movie that you will put into rotation every year at Christmas time without hesitation.

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20. Batman & Robin 1997, Dr. Ing. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze

If your dad was a supervillain, he would be Mr. Freeze, which means your father would be Arnold Schwarzenegger, which he almost certainly is not, although it's pretty funny to imagine how would look like. (Would he be the cool parent, or would he be the one doing your homework, brushing your teeth, and eating your vegetables at some point in your life, when you can not see how damn good vegetables are?) Apart from this train of thought There is no denying that Mr. Freeze is the king of father jokes in comic movie history. When Joel Schumacher gave birth to Batman & Robin like a neutron bomb in the world in 1997, Schwarzenegger's performance gave critics a convenient scapegoat for their (legitimate) contempt for the film. In fact, considering the harsh words of Batman & Robin (in one word: disgusting), his problems have less to do with Schwarzenegger than with holistic production. Basically, Schwarzenegger is the only one that's fun, like cold jokes about ice and dinosaurs.

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19. Junior 1994, Dr. Ing. Alexander "Alex" Hesse

For many junior there are four words: "It is not a tumor!" This line determines the movie. It's the anchor pose Junior which is popular in popular culture and not necessarily intended to flatter the movie – after all, it's a comedy in which Schwarzenegger plays a scientist, and if that's not unbelievable enough, he plays a scientist who plays depressed – but more to spear it up and to remember his absurd one-wit premise. But hey: Gemini also had a premise with a joke, and Gemini is pretty fine. Junior is nowhere near as good (and Twins is good only in the way that many comic comedies from the 80s are), but it's a wonderful setting for Arnolds Sense of time. The timing is everything in the comedy, Junior feels in backview rather than proof (if more evidence is needed) for Schwarzenegger's star quality. He can throw a guy out with his fist and he can throw an audience out laughing. Double threat.

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18. Escape Plan 2013, Emil Rottmayer / Victor X Mannheim

In Mikael Håfström's Escape Plan there is a nice little moment in which the Austrian banker Emil Rottmayer, who lives in a remote private prison imprisoned, a psychotic fakes you break off to distract the guards long enough for his fellow inmates to break into a jail Emil screams. He cries. He starts babbling in Austria. It's a special beat in Schwarzenegger's story: We're always aware of his background, but it's not often that his background is placed in the foreground of a movie. In Escape Plan this dynamic helps to sing that scene, and elsewhere the weight of Schwarzenegger's micro-performance is translated into an otherwise fundamental movie about two guys hatching an escape plan. Honestly, the real point of the exercise here is to frame Schwarzenegger with star and star star action star Sylvester Stallone, but since their association led to this great collapse of Arnold, this is a positive result.

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17. The 6th Day 2000, Adam Gibson / Adam Gibson Clone

What's better than an Arnold? Two Arnolds! An Arnold is trouble for bad guys. Two Arnolds, well, there is no escape. As is the case with any film that attempts to sell Arnold to his audience as a normal type, The 6th Day suffers from Arnold's unusual stature as a movie star and, above all, as a model of the highest male corporeality. He plays a helicopter pilot. Let's repeat it again: in a science fiction movie in the near future, where cloning is one thing – an ethically demanding thing, but one thing -, the only career writers that Cormac and Marianne Wibberley can think of are to give Arnold's character "a helicopter pilot". "Come on, but Arnold does well enough normality by selling Adam Gibson's shock when he came home to see that he was replaced by his doppelganger and was involved in the battle over cloning morale The sixth day is mostly there, it is enough stunning and intriguing enough and with just enough Arnold to make the experience in his filmography memorable.

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16. Kindergarten Cop 1990, Det. John Kimble

If you watch your favorite action hero show you his buttocks from a group of kids that are not up to the waist, this may be Not your idea of ​​a good time, but honestly, this scenario may well be the case Arnold from his purest side Arnold's fans are interested in his macho image No one can speak for Arnold, but f r Arnold, but it's a pretty good bet that he that image does not craps, at least not so much that he does not play around with it or exchange it for the money is for a good physical gag. The key to Preschool Police Officer is that he needs Schwarzenegger, but Schwarzenegger, a big Hollywood deal by the time he had in the 80s, did not really need Kindergarten Policeman . But he took over the role anyway, and judging by his performance, he loved it. How can you not leave this commitment and obvious personal enjoyment behind? For a moment he yells at a bunch of Tykes. The next one he presents her to his pet ferret. That's adorable.

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15. Red Heat, 1988, Cpt. Ivan Danko

If you make a great buddy-cop comedy and it turns out that this buddy-cop comedy is great enough to actually reinvent the buddy-cop subcategory, you can not blame it, that you made another Buddy -Cop movie, right? Law. Mostly. Red Heat has its issues; The film stinks of politics of his time. But other than that, Red Heat is terrific, just what one would expect from a technician like Walter Hill, he absolutely 48 hours a man with a straightforward aesthetic and an uncomplicated aesthetic excellent sense of incongruent comic pairings. Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, then Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi. They are perfect slides for each other: Belushi, the wise American detective, Schwarzenegger, the man with the iron chin. The timing is all over again and that's the key to the relationship between the two.

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14. Eraser 1996, US Marshal John Kruger

The great claim of Eraser is that it is a solid Schwarzenegger film. No more and no less. Part of its significance in his filmography and part of what makes it so good is the landing: after Last Action Hero when Schwarzenegger's Starpower could not help him open a movie that had a damned leading role occupies. It is the last worthwhile Arnie movie until The Last Stand (the madcap spells of Batman & Robin aside). And it's really worth nothing, apart from the great entries in his CV, but a nice example of what makes Arnie films. No more Mr. Nice Arnold: The action is a gas and he even gets a few select one-liners. It can not withstand the Total Recalls and Terminators but applies as a mid-range Schwarzenegger eraser

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. 13 Twins 1988, Julius Benedict

It is amazing that even after 1976, Schwarzenegger was able to pass on his farm-boy charm and seriousness and turn a crappy film into a decent and decent movie that itself was surprising to see. Gemini falls between these terms; It's the kind of fluffy 1980s comedy that twinkles and itches and stirs them before the sentimental takes a sharp turn toward the end, with the exception of movie stars Schwarzenegger as a fluffy reef on his action star personality. Julius Benedict is a very good boy, basically a golden retriever in human form. He just wants his brother Vincent (Danny DeVito) to love him. He wants to find her mother and ask why she left him because (surprise) he wants her to love him too. The whole exercise is damn silly, but Schwarzenegger wins enough and DeVito is slimy enough that Twins works against expectations.

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12. Raw Deal, 1986, Sheriff Mark Kaminsky / Joseph P. Brenner

There's an alternate universe out there with the lens behind Raw Deal ended in a crude deal , In this universe, the movie is a top to bottom potboiler created only by technically competent borderline experts to keep costs down. But we do not live in this universe. We live in the universe where Raw Deal was shot by Alex Thomson, whose CV includes names like Nicolas Roeg, Michael Cimino, Michael Mann, David Fincher and John Boorman; edited by the legendary Anne V. Coates, known by Lawrence of Arabia ; and written by Norman Wexler, responsible for the screenplays of Saturday Night Fever and Serpico . How Raw Deal grew up with so much pedigree in the corner is a bizarre puzzle that probably has something to do with producer Dino De Laurentiis, but look no gift horse in the mouth: Raw Deal has far more artistic value than it needs or even deserves (so much that Arnold's casting is superfluous compared to the hands that are primarily associated with putting the film together). [19659002] BUY HERE

11. Last Action Hero 1993, Det. Jack Slater / himself

If Total Recall was not a matter, Last Action Hero could have a higher one in the Schwarzenegger Canon Take priority; They are more or less one-size-fits-all, as self-assured action films made by great artisans who want to dissect and skewer the conventions they openly consume. But there is a big difference between the two: Total Recall is a rock-cold masterpiece, and Last Action Hero is probably just "good" or "in the spirit of generosity" better than you are can remember. "Like Total Recall it is self-reflective. Like Total Recall, it uses the genre cliché for fun, profit and even plot. Unlike Total Recall, it was made by John McTiernan, who knows how to make an amazing action movie (see: The Hard, and other entries in this list, y & # 39; ; know), but Last Action Hero tries to achieve this. (Es hilft nicht, dass das Ansehen des Films dieses unerschütterliche Gefühl vermittelt, dass andere Leute ständig versucht haben, ihre Hände am Lenkrad zu halten, während McTiernan zu steuern versuchte.) Was der Film gut macht, ist, die Liebe zum Handeln als Drama zu erfassen und zu dramatisieren Genre; es ist eine Feier der Dinge, die „boomt“ und eine Ode an Arnolds Legende.

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10. The Running Man 1987, Benjamin "Ben" Richards

Vor drei Jahrzehnten nahmen Kritiker The Running Man in den Waldschuppen. Jetzt sehen sie alle wie Arschlöcher aus. Es ist nicht ungewöhnlich, Filme von gestern zu sehen, die im Laufe der Zeit neu bewertet wurden und von späteren Generationen (oder von den nachdenklicheren Schiedsrichtern der vorherigen Generation) mit neuem Leben und Wertschätzung versehen wurden, aber die Rezensenten hatten The Running Man beim ersten Mal sehr falsch. Machen wir uns etwas vor und nennen es vorwiegend: Paul Michael Glasers Adaption von Stephen Kings Roman aus dem Jahr 1982 sagt nicht nur den giftigen Einfluss von TV auf die Popkultur voraus, er informiert insbesondere Filme, die von Battle Royale bis The reichen Hunger Games lange nach seiner ersten Veröffentlichung im Jahr 1987 hergestellt. King setzte den Roman im Jahr 2025. Der Drehbuchautor von Glaser, Steven E. de Souza, drückte das Datum auf 2017 zurück, das Jahr eines globalen wirtschaftlichen Zusammenbruchs, der zu den USA führte Umwandlung in einen Polizeistaat. So ernst wie The Running Man die Prämisse ist, The Running Man selbst ist absichtlich dumm, beladen mit Einzeilen und Action, die an das Absurde grenzt. Aber die Dummheit hat einen Weg, den Ernst zu verkaufen und damit die Satire zu verkaufen.

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9. Conan der Barbar, 1982; Conan der Zerstörer, 1984, Conan

Sie können Schwarzeneggers Rollen wählen, die Schwarzenegger am besten als Filmstar oder als Person definieren. Seine Arbeit ist mit Beiträgen zur Ikonographie des Actionfilms übersät. Wenn Sie jedoch an Schwarzenegger als einen großen, muskulösen Rindfleischkuchen denken, der der Menschheit über den Umfang seines Bizeps hinaus wenig zu bieten hat, dann ist Ihr Arnie-Film wahrscheinlich Conan der Barbar oder seine wesentlich geringere Fortsetzung Conan der Zerstörer. (Die rettende Gnade des Letzteren ist seine immense GIF-Fähigkeit, aber das ist nicht wirklich ein Plus.) Halten Sie sich an das Original, nicht nur den Vater eines eigenen Nachfolgers, sondern den Vorläufer dieses sehr kurzlebigen Fantasy-Epos in den achtziger Jahren Angenommen, Sie denken, dass eine gute Sache und keine Peinlichkeit am besten vergessen wird.

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8. The Last Stand 2013, Sheriff Ray Owens

Wenn Sie sich in der Stimmung für einen Arnold Schwarzenegger befinden, der als eine Reihe von Anspielungen auf Arnold Schwarzeneggers Karriere fungiert und Ihren Geschmack und Ihren Intellekt nicht beleidigt, versuchen Sie zu geben Kim Jee-Woon ist eine ausgezeichnete Uhr The Last Stand . Kim versucht nicht, das Arnie-Rad neu zu erfinden, aber er ist auch ein disziplinierter Filmemacher, nicht einer, der faul wird und sich auf referentielle Druderei stützt, um ein paar billige Pops aus seinem Publikum zu erzielen. Arnie fans will be happy just to see him in a movie, to say nothing of a movie directed with brisk, loony energy by one of South Korea’s best genre filmmakers. Helming The Last Stand, a tale of big crime in a small town watched over by Schwarzenegger’s guilty and world-weary sheriff, Kim contents himself letting Arnold be Arnold with no other pretense. Rather than reference Arnold’s movies, he references some of his own and generally has a great time doing it. The best part? His star has a great time indulging him, and turns out the best performance in his 2010s revival.

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7. True Lies, 1994, Agent Harry Tasker / Harry Renquist

Depending on your vantage point, True Lies has either aged poorly or remarkably well for a movie of its era. In 2018, productions as blatantly racist and homophobic as this are rightly unfashionable, and for that matter, can you even imagine a movie about a government spy blackmailing his own wife into becoming a prostitute getting a greenlight today? (Scratch that last one. The answer’s still likely “yes.”) But even problematic faves still have merit as entertainment, and entertainment’s where True Lies thrives. If you can stomach the bad optics, and if you can buy the central premise—that a guy like Schwarzenegger could work as a spy and hide his vocation from his family without ever raising even a whiff of suspicion—then you’re in for a nice, larky ride, a product of its time that knows how to party. It’s about as basic as they come in Arnold’s filmography, but everyone needs to chow down on meat and potatoes once in a while.

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6. Maggie, 2015, Wade Vogel

Wade Vogel’s weepy zombie flick Maggie doesn’t ask much of Schwarzenegger, but he delivers more, which is good since Vogel doesn’t have a whole lot to give himself. Maggie, in case it’s not already clear, isn’t a great movie, just a decent one, too listless to uphold the promise of its basic conceit. Wade (Schwarzenegger) finds his daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin), zombie-bitten in post-zombie pandemic America; he brings her home, though she left in the first place to protect him and the rest of her family, to take care of her, knowing full well the danger he courts by just being near her. It’s a heartbreaking idea, lessened by the absence of momentum. All things considered, Maggie goes nowhere. Its stakes never amount to anything. But it’s beautiful, in a grim, washed-out sort of way, and Schwarzenegger is legitimately devastating as a man torn in two by the inevitable demise of his daughter. Burying your child is one kind of horror. Knowing when you’re going to have to bury her is worse. Maggie might be stuck in place, but Schwarzenegger understands the grim truth at its center.

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5. Commando1985, Col. John Matrix

For one group of people, Commando may well come down to its one-liners, as do so many of Arnie’s movies. For another group, Commando comes down to a 40-second gear-up montage, where John Matrix rows ashore an empty beach in naught but his Speedos and then, in several blinks of the human eye, clothes himself, carefully knots his boots, arms himself to the teeth, and paints himself with camo stripes. You think John’s an efficient soldier? He’s even more efficient at getting dressed. You ever hit up a party with this guy, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be late because he’s taking too long to pick out and put on an outfit. That’s military discipline exemplified. Granted, he might leave the party a smoldering ruin, but at least you’ll be on time.

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4. Predator, 1987, Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer

Gather together a crowd of action die-hards, and each of them will have their own favorite '80s action star, whether Stallone, Willis, Chow Yun-fat, Jackie Chan, Jean Claude Van Damme, or Schwarzenegger. But from any objective sense, Schwarzenegger has an edge over all of them thanks to Predator, where he goes toe-to-toe with Kevin Peter Hall as one of sci-fi’s greatest monsters; none of Arnie’s contemporaries can claim that kind of awesome accomplishment. “But Die Hard is the greatest action movie of all time!” you say. And you know what? You’re right. But Predator, John McTiernan’s pre-Die Hard warm-up, is every bit as dizzying a spectacle and proof of both his skill as an action maestro and Schwarzenegger’s presence. Even when dwarfed by Hall, he fills up the screen.

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3. The Terminator, 1984, T-800 "Model 101"; Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991, T-800 "Model 101"; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, 2003, T-850 "Model 101"; Terminator Genisys, 2015, T-800 "Model 101"

Given a little thought, Terminator is the perfect metaphor for Schwarzenegger: Like the T-800, he’s an implacable brawny machine who absolutely will not stop until he fulfills his mission. The key difference is that Schwarzenegger just wants to wow your socks clean off your ankles. He doesn’t want to kill you, though if you hang out with him long enough, chances are you’ll accidentally get blown up or crushed by a tank. That’s the risk you take hanging out with the Governator.

Yuks aside, the Terminator films, for better and for worse, are likely the most defining films of Schwarzenegger’s body of work; the image of the shades-wearing, leather-clad cyborg, striding without end toward his target. There’s a transgressive “cool” factor to the Terminator figure: He looks like a rebel badass. True, he’s a tool of oppression in the first movie, but his turn through the rest of the series lets him earn the distinction his outfit affords him. The quality of Terminators after the first two (arguably three, if you feel like fighting) drops tremendously, but decades later, the cool remains.

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2. Stay Hungry1976, Joe Santo

Here it is: The best evidence available that Arnold can, in fact, act. Much like its protagonist, a mopey well-heeled Southern boy and inveterate loafer, Stay Hungry isn’t ambitious. Rather, it’s unapologetically carefree, the film equivalent of bobbing down a river on a summer’s day, lazing on an inner tube without a worry in your heart or any plan in mind other than pursuit of nirvana by way of inertia. The Southern boy is played by Jeff Bridges, youthful but still possessed of that trademark Bridges roguishness; he’s supported first by Sally Fields, free-spirited and completely allergic to nonsense, and second by Arnold, playing an equally free-spirited bodybuilder with the life goal of winning the Mr. Universe title. Schwarzenegger embodies chummy convivial warmth; he’s everyone’s friend. Whether he’s lifting weights or shredding on the fiddle, he’s a vision of good cheer, a magnetic field of joy you’re happily caught in.

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1. Total Recall, 1990, Douglas "Doug" Quaid / Carl Hauser

The film The Last Action Hero wishes it could be. Also: not the film anyone thinks it is, or thought it was. By now Total Recall’s quality of satire is well-known; it’s a clever, and well-masked, send-up of action cinema, a demonstration of how action films numb our senses and melt our brains. Maybe one could argue, assuming one is willing, that a guy like Schwarzenegger doesn’t suit that conceit particularly well, given that he’s the action star, a man whose influence over the genre’s evolution is as grand as it is undeniable. But that’s exactly what makes him so perfect for Total Recall’s merciless parody. The movie needs Schwarzenegger to be himself, and to give a full demonstration of the archetype he helped shape. It has Schwarzenegger at his wide-eyed best, a man unmoored from reality as he knows it and desperate to find his footing. It’s a wild bit of entertainment, an all-timer among spoofs, and the best Schwarzenegger has ever been.

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