on June 21, 1996 by Susan Lambert
In the middle of "Eraser," James Caan explains Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, U.S. Marshal John Kruger, to an astonished flunky, "He thinks he's the best guy in the game. I think he's right." He might have well been talking about the star himself. Cruise, Connery and Cage take notes, for the man knows his business like no other. Just as some might think he's plummeting to the end of his career, Schwarzenegger proves he can grab, strap on and release a parachute in mid air.
   "Eraser" is smart and fast and wicked. Schwarzenegger, the top Marshal at the Witness Protection Program, finds his latest witness, good gal Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), is wanted terminated by higher-ups in the government and within his own organization. What follows is the usual double-crosses, big fights, elaborate set pieces and cool armament that's set to be shipped off to shadowy foreigners.
   Director Charles Russell ("The Mask") knows how to shape a story, build a sequence and pace a picture, and his craft is appreciated in this summer era of blockbuster flack. The script is taut and sure, salted with just the right amount of humor, but one too many Schwarzeneggerisms. Robert Pastorelli (from television's "Murphy Brown") brings great fun and a gentle way to his role of Johnny C., a grateful former witness who joins in the fun. Williams is beautiful, but lacking. It's difficult to put anyone opposite Schwarzenegger, but somehow she makes his acting look good. Schwarzenegger has clearly been studying his masters Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. And someone has been studying their Jackie Chan, for with "Eraser," they've created ingenious and clever action sequences that don't need random fireballs to make the point. Besides, you've got to love a Schwarzenegger movie where his back-up team in the final attack are union labor leaders. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan and Vanessa Williams. Directed by Charles Russell. Written by Tony Puryear and Walon Green. Produced by Arnold Kopelson and Anne Kopelson. A Warner Bros. Release. Rated R. Running time: 116 minutes
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, Vanessa Williams, Charles Russell, Tony Puryear, Walon Green, Arnold Kopelson, Anne Kopelson, Warner Bros, humor, Marshal, action

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