As the UK approaches its third month of lockdown, we thought we’d dive into the extended filmography of cinema’s biggest blockbuster badass – Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you’re bored, down in the dumps or just feeling a little low on Austrian chutzpah, here’s our list of the 10 best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies to put the spring back in your step – and to help you blow those COVID-19 blues to hell. Now, get to ze sofaaa!
The ’80s was a strange time where seemingly anything was possible – even a movie based around the implausible premise that Arnie and Danny DeVito could be twins. They played long lost brothers Julias and Benedict, the result of a top secret genetics experiment. Separated at birth and brought up under very different circumstances, the physically mismatched duo go in search of their biological mother, getting into many scrapes (and japes) along the way. Sandwiched between 1987’s The Running Man and 1990’s Total Recall, Twins was a new genre for Arnie, not worthy of his top five, but very enjoyable all the same.
Most iconic one-liner: “It wasn’t his fault! The pavement was his enemy!”
9‘Kindergarten Cop’ (1990)
It’s hard to believe Arnie featured in Kindergarten Cop and Total Recall in the same year, such was the difference in tone. Again directed by Ivan Reitman, this family classic still hits all of the usual Arnie notes, but with a bit more heart. LAPD detective Harry Kimble (Arnie) has been tracking down drug dealer Cullen Crisp for years, which leads him to become an undercover pre-school teacher, falling for fellow teacher Joyce Palmieri (Penelope Ann Miller) in the process.
Most iconic one-liner: “It’s not a tumor!”
8‘Last Action Hero’ (1993)
Director John McTiernan (Predator) and Arnie hook up again for this silly popcorn romp, which is a whole heap of fun. The plot is simple: imagine having a golden ticket that could transport you into the world of the movie you were watching in the cinema. That’s exactly what happens to Danny Madigan, a teenager from a broken home who lives in a poorer area of New York. Cue ridiculous action and some clever one-liners. Harmless family fun in a fantastical format.
Most iconic one-liner: “Wanna be a farmer? Here’s a couple of acres”
7‘True Lies’ (1994)
Arnie and director James Cameron join forces three years after Terminator 2, but this time the future is looking slightly less bleak in a grandiose action thriller about a computer salesman who moonlights as a spy. Harry Tasker (Arnie) suspects that his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) is having an affair, after overhearing a phone call between her and a used car salesman called Simon (Bill Paxton). Keen to give Helen the excitement she’s looking for, Harry takes her on a secret mission, but the lines are blurred when a terrorist group spoils the surprise, Harry’s true identity is revealed – and the couple find themselves fighting for their lives.
Most iconic one-liner: “You’re fired”
Arnie is John Matrix living in peaceful isolation with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). Warned that his fellow soldiers are being knocked off one by one, and with Jenny being abducted by his former subordinate, it’s up to Matrix to sort it out, of course. Get ready for more explosions, classic Arnie-isms and over-the-top stunts than you can shake an AK-47 at – this is mid-80s gem from The Governator.
Most iconic one-liner: “Let off some steam Bennett!”
5‘The Running Man’ (1987)
In the late ’80s, the future must not have looked so great, because dystopian movies were all the rage. Who would’ve thought that cinema’s ugliest predictions could have fallen short of what’s actually going on now… In The Running Man, America is a totalitarian state where the titular game show forces convicts to battle killers for their freedom. Falsely convicted policeman Ben Richards (Arnie) is used as a scapegoat by the government and finds himself in amongst the contestants. Paul Michael Glaser, that’s Starsky of Starsky & Hutch, directs this ’80s classic, which comments on the blurred lines between entertainment and reality while questioning the establishment.
Most iconic one-liner: “I hope you leave enough room for my fist, because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!”
The film that spawned a franchise of ups and downs, but if you’re looking to get into Predator then don’t go further than Predator 2 (it’s not worth it). Arnie is the leader of an elite paramilitary rescue team on a mission to save hostages from guerrilla fighters in Central America – but things don’t go to plan and the team are picked off one by one by a fearsome extraterrestrial warrior. Make sure you stick it out to the end, which features one of the greatest face-offs in action movie history.
Most iconic one-liner: “If it bleeds, we can kill it”
3‘Total Recall’ (1990)
Douglas Quaid (Arnie) is a 21st Century construction worker married to Lori (Sharon Stone) who discovers that his entire memory of the past derives from a memory chip implanted in his brain. This is one of director Paul Verhoeven’s best films, hot on the heels of 1987’s Robocop, and is stuffed with violence, gore and the Dutch filmmaker’s signature corporate-baddie-against-the-people plot lines.
Most iconic one-liner: “Consider that a divorce”
2‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)
Seven years after his first outing, the Terminator returned to the big screen with James Cameron at the helm once more. This time, the T-800 is sent back to protect a young John Connor, leader of the Resistance, from a new threat – the shapeshifting T-1000. A more bombastic and tonally lighter film than the first, 1991’s Judgment Day encapsulated ’90s excess, bringing a little more soul to Arnie’s fearsome metalhead.
Most iconic one-liner: “Hasta la vista, baby”
1‘The Terminator’ (1984)
A soldier from the future is sent back to 1984 in order to stop a cyborg assassin from murdering a young woman – whose unborn son is the key to the survival of humanity. James Cameron’s box office-breaking sci-fi horror would go on to become one of the most iconic franchises of the last four decades, producing not one but two legendary screen characters – Sarah Connor and the T-800.
Most iconic one-liner: “I’ll be back”