Top 10 Arnold Schwarzenegger Films
Believe it or not, today Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates his 70th birthday. And just like his physique, we only wish we could have a filmography as good as Mr Universe. He may not have released a decent film for a long while now (the less said about Aftermath the better), but nobody can forget his classics of the 80s and 90s. So to celebrate the big 7-0, here’s what we think are Arnie’s Top 10 best films to date.
10) Last Action Hero (1993)
Having been at the helm for Predator and Die Hard, John McTiernan had quickly made a reputation for himself as one of the best action directors on the planet. Add in our Arnie – easily the best action movie star on the planet – and Last Action Hero should have been an easy home-run. But the hype surrounding the film never really quite lived up to expectation, grossing a modest £137 million and picking up its fair share of poor reviews from the critics. But we love the parody film which sees a kid get sucked into the movie universe and team up with his idol, played by Schwarzenegger. It’s by no means a classic, but Last Action Hero doesn’t half pack some nostalgia value.
9) Twins (1988)
It took until 1988 for Arnie to take on a film that wasn’t a full-throttle action flick. It came in the form of Twins, with Schwarzenegger teaming up with Danny DeVito. While the latter was known as one of the best comic actors around at the time, nobody knew whether The Running Man could keep up. It turned out that he was hysterical, and having the duo play twins on a quest to find their biological mother was an inspired piece of casting. The film grossed a mammoth $216 million at the box office, cementing Arnie as one of the biggest film stars working in Hollywood.
8) Conan the Barbarian (1982)
The film that started it all. Prior to his role in Conan, Schwarzenegger was simply known as the bodybuilder with the thick accent and unpronounceable last name. But Conan the Barbarian was the making of the young Austrian and he’s never looked back. Scripted by Oliver Stone, Conan takes place in a magical prehistoric world where a warrior seeks revenge against the sorcerer that murdered his parents. It was a huge box office hit and a sequel soon arrived just two years later. The rest, as they say, is history.
7) Commando (1985)
Commando is arguably the most quintessential Schwarzenegger movie on our list. He plays retired Special Forces soldier John Matrix. He’s living peacefully and humbly in the mountains with his young daughter played by a young Alyssa Milano. But when she’s kidnapped by a Latin American dictator, Arnie is forced to take action and get involved with a South American revolution, using rocket launchers in the process. The moral of Commando – much like basically all Arnie films – is don’t fuck with Arnie.
6) True Lies (1994)
While James Cameron might be known for his wildly ambitious projects, we think True Lies is one of his best film to date. Schwarzenegger plays a secret agent who poses as a computer salesman, while Jamie Lee Curtis plays his neglected wife and has an affair with Bill Paxton. But when an Islamic jihadist kidnaps both Arnie and better half, it’s down to our favourite Austrian superhero to save both the world and his marriage. It may not ever reach the heights of some of Schwarzenegger’s classics, but there’s enough action, humour, and some truly ridiculous plot twists to make True Lies an incredibly fun watch.
5) Total Recall (2014)
Trying to explain the plot to any of Paul Verhoeven’s films is difficult enough – especially anything of his in the sci-fi genre. But we’ll give Total Recall a go… The year is 2084 and Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a bored construction worker who dreams of visiting a now colonised Mars. To do the next best thing, he visits Rekall, a company that implants false memories into people’s brains. But when trying to give Arnie the false thrill of Mars, something goes wrong and the Governor of California discovers his whole life is actually a false memory. And as a result they want him dead. It’s an incredible piece of sci-fi and shows just how many hits Schwarzenegger has had that it only just makes our Top 5!
4) Pumping Iron (1976)
We don’t usually include documentaries in our ‘best of’ lists but to be honest there aren’t usually docs as good as Robert Fiore and George Butler’s Pumping Iron. The film takes a look at the 1975 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding contest with the film’s main protagonists being two future superstars in Schwarzenegger and the Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno. Pumping Iron shows the rivalry in all its glory with Ferrigno more often than not coming out second best to a confident and charismatic Schwarzenegger. It’s a fascinating watch and it’s easy to see why Arnie became the phenomenon he did.
3) The Terminator (1984)
One of Hollywood’s biggest folklores has is that the studio originally wanted O.J. Simpson to play the Terminator. Thankfully for them – and us the audience – a relatively unknown James Cameron managed to convince the studio that a popular football star couldn’t pull of the role of a remorseless killer. After Mel Gibson and Sly Stallone both turned down the role, Schwarzenegger – hot off the success of the original Conan film – was given the part of the cyborg, and the rest is history. As brilliant and quotable as the first Terminator obviously is, we still think the sequel amazingly managed to top it. Regardless, it’s still a cracking sci-fi thriller with great chases, brilliant special effects, and a whole load of cool.
2) Predator (1987)
A year before he basically created the perfect action film with Die Hard, John McTiernan directed his second film on our Schwarzenegger list with Predator. Arnie plays the leader of an elite Special Forces team on a mission to rescue hostages from guerrilla territory in Val Verde in Central America’s Northern Triangle. But soon enough the team is picked off one by one by a technologically advanced alien… Forget the recent addition to the franchise, the original Predator is pure, unadulterated trash in the very best way possible.
1) Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
While the original is clearly up there, put simply Terminator 2: Judgement Day is one of the best action films ever made, and for us, it’s also the best sequel ever made. He may have been trying to kill Sarah Connor in the first, but in the sequel Arnie plays good cop and is sent back to protect her from an even more advanced Terminator who can turn into water. Not only that, he can only destroyed by being submerged in molten metal – rather luckily that’s where the two Terminators end up in one of the greatest fight scenes in cinema history. The special effects are mind-blowing even now, it’s full of as much heart as it is scares, and the storytelling is seamless with Cameron at his absolute best. All of which add up to us believing Terminator 2: Judgement Day is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best ever film.