Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Also, since I’m not a jerk, this is your spoiler warning for the 1994 movie, True Lies.
Saving the world is a full time job. Harry Tasker – the role Arnold Schwarzenegger was born to play – knows this as well as anyone. He’s always blowing things up and icing baddies in awesome ways, not because it’s badass, but because he cares about humanity. And also because it’s badass. What’s not badass, by the way, is going to work for a fourteen hour shift, capping villains, thinking up hilarious quips to deliver seconds later, and generally being a god-damned American hero, just to come home and find out that there’s another dude moving in on your old lady. Enter Simon, AKA Carlos the Jackal.
True Lies is an odd movie. It’s like a ninety minute action movie that’s stretched out to nearly two and a half hours by inserting a little bit of family drama into the middle that’s largely unrelated to the rest of the plot. I know, that sounds mental, but it’s basically the best film ever so we’ll let it slide. The opening act establishes that Harry Tasker is an amazing American secret agent sporting a thick, never explained Austrian accent. With the rest of his team he travels the globe foiling terrorist plots and blowing shit up in totally radical ways in the name of justice. After a bunch of gunfights, explosions, and an amazing tango – who knew Schwarzenegger could dance? – Harry and his team discover that a really nasty terrorist is planning to do something real naughty, and it’s absolutely imperative that he be stopped… later, because it’s family drama time.
Since being a spy means that you’re not allowed to tell anyone you’re a spy, Harry’s wife Helen is blissfully unaware that her husband is fucking gnarly secret agent, and thinks he’s just a boring old sales rep. A sales rep that’s got incredible muscle definition, but a sales rep none the less. He’s always late for dinner, he’s always breaking promises, and he doesn’t spend enough time with his kid. The romance has gone. And so Helen, living a dull life as a legal secretary, married to a dull – not awesome – sales rep, is feeling vulnerable and in dire need of a little action, when by chance she’s handed a briefcase by a mysterious man in a restaurant who claims it’s a matter of national security and then promptly runs off.
Naturally, she breaks into the briefcase to see what it’s all about, only to find it’s stuffed with money in all different denominations from various countries across the globe, numerous passports, and a gun. The mysterious man contacts her, and arranges a meet to get his stuff back, where he announces that his name is Simon and he’s a secret agent. There’s a mole in his unit and nobody can be trusted which means he’s gonna need to get help from someone unaffiliated with the agency, and lo and behold, he’s just met Helen, who is not a spy. Harry’s wife is caught up in the allure of the action and the excitement, and so she’s perhaps a little more receptive to Simon’s particular brand of bullshit than most people would be and she agrees to join him on his quest. But you see, Simon isn’t a spy at all. He’s a used car salesman and a massive, deplorable jerk.
Simon has been gasp! lying to women about his job in order to get laid. He’s been enjoying his sleazy shenanigans for far too long, assuming that no real life superspy would ever take umbrage with him taking credit for their actions, but that was before he started to ply his trade with Harry Tasker’s wife. Harry ain’t got time for that shit. So Harry tracks him down under the pretence that he’s interested in buying a car, and gets him to tell all about how he seduces women with a killer angle about being a hero. Simon only pretends to be a spy so he can stick it to bored housewives in need of a little bit of kiss kiss bang bang, and his shtick is yielding dividends. “Not just the skanks, either,” he so eloquently puts it. “Well, some are.”
Later, Simon tries to get Helen on board for a secret mission to Paris where she’ll have to play his wife. He pours her a glass of claret and starts touching her up to “help her get into the role”. When she declines, citing her love for her husband as more important than stopping a pretend terrorist, Simon pleads for a shag, saying “If not for me… Do it for your country?” God loves a trier.
Jerk-off Quote: “She could be so hot if she wanted to. She’s like all these babes, you get their pilot lit, they could suck start a leafblower. And she’s got the most incredible body too and a pair of titties that make you wanna stand up and beg for buttermilk. Ass like a ten year old boy!” – Simon, using the phrase “Ass like a ten year old boy” in what I’m assuming is a compliment, but I’m not really sure why.
Comeuppance: Harry uses government funds to pull off an elaborate sting operation to scare Simon, having him dragged out of his trailer home in his underwear by armed agents. He starts crying, claims he was never a spy and only pretended to be one in order to get girls to have sex with him, laments the size of his manhood – “I got a little dick. It’s pathetic!” – and then pisses his pants. It’s not his best day.
Jerk-off Rating: Arnie spends hundreds of thousands of American taxpayers dollars and stops tracking a dangerous terrorist just to teach this guy a lesson, and we’re all totally okay with it.
Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks.