Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
F. Murray Abraham (Thirteen Ghosts)
Art Carney (Firestarter)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Frank McRae (Rocky II)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)
Anthony Quinn (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Mercedes Ruehl (Big)
Austin O’Brien (Lawnmower Man 2)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Tina Turner (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome)
Angie Everhart (Garden of Evil)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Robert Patrick (Tammy)
Sharon Stone (Total Recall)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (Universal Soldier
Joan Plowright (Enchanted April)
Karen Duffy (Dumb and Dumber)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids)
Danny DeVito (Dumbo)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)
Danny Madigan is a teenage boy living in a crime-ridden area of New York City with his widowed mother Irene. To escape from his harsh reality, Danny often skips school to watch movies at the run-down Pandora movie theater, owned and managed by Danny’s friend Nick. Nick receives the film reels for Jack Slater IV, the latest in one of Danny’s favorite film series about the titular Los Angeles police detective and violent action hero, and offers to show it to Danny at a private screening just before the world premiere. To mark the occasion, Nick tears up a special ticket he received from Harry Houdini years ago, giving one half of the stub to Danny as a keepsake.
As the film starts, Danny is unaware that the stub glows with magic. When a lit stick of dynamite exits the film during a car chase scene and lands in the theater, Danny instinctively ducks for cover. When he comes to, he finds that he is now in the film, riding along with Slater who is in disbelief as how Danny arrived. At the LAPD headquarters, Danny tries to explain how this is all a film and explaining who the bad guys are, but Slater does not accept this. Despite this, Slater’s supervisor, Lt. Dekker, assigns Danny to work with Slater given his apparent knowledge of the villain. Danny leads Slater to the home of mob boss Tony Vivaldi which he saw in the opening of the film. Vivaldi denies any wrong doing and Slater is unable to arrest him despite Danny’s assurance of his crime. As they depart, Vivaldi’s assassin, Mr. Benedict, overhears Danny talking about the ticket stub, and discretely follows the two. That night, Benedict orders an attack on Slater’s home while he is introducing Danny to his daughter, Whitney. While Slater and Whitney fend off the attackers, Benedict is able to steal the ticket stub from Danny.
From the attack, Slater learns of Vivaldi’s plot to kill a rival mob family at a rooftop funeral service using nerve gas, and he and Danny are able to foil the attack. Whitney helps to drive them to Vivaldi’s home, but they arrive just after Benedict has killed Vivaldi and used the ticket stub to create a portal to the real world. Danny and Slater follow. They lose track of Benedict quickly, and Slater becomes dishearted by the reality of this New York City. Danny introduces Slater to his mother, and from her, Slater comes to appreciate the harsh reality instead of the glamorized world he lives in, vowing to take a softer stance. They learn that Benedict believes he can kill Slater in this world by killing the actor that plays him, Arnold Schwarzenegger. After chasing Benedict down to the premiere of Jack Slater IV and saving Schwarzenegger’s life, they corner Benedict on the roof, finding that he has brought the Ripper, the villain from Jack Slater III and who had killed Slater’s son in that film. The Ripper attempts to kill Danny but Slater stops him in time. However, Danny ends up thrown from the roof and hanging for his life. As Slater attempts to rescue him, Benedict mortally shoots Slater and monologues on how he will use the ticket to bring more villains to life and take over this world. Danny uses the opportunity to knock Benedict down, and Slater is able to kill Benedict by firing into his exploding glass eye.
The ticket stub flies free to the streets before they can grab it, and with no other ideas, Danny helps Slater back to the Pandora hoping to find a way to return Jack to his world where he should heal quickly due to its fictional nature. Shortly after they arrive, they find that Death from the The Seventh Seal, pulled out of the film by the loose ticket stub, has followed them. However, it is revealed that Death only approached the two out of curiosity: because of Slater’s fictional nature, “he’s not on any of [Death’s] lists.” After Danny explains the situation, Death suggests to find the other half of the ticket stub before departing. Danny empties the lobby stub box and finds the still glowing other half of the ticket stub and uses it to pull Slater back into the film. There, Slater quickly heals, his wound barely a scratch. After Danny calls for help, Slater tells Danny he must return to his world, and the two say their goodbyes. Danny returns and excited tells Nick of his adventure as Jack Slater IV ends, with Slater tells Dekker of his new insights on the world before driving off into the sunset.
It may be a satire, but Last Action Hero just may be one of the last true action films. Real stunts, real explosions, real destruction, reality gone twisted. It’s Arnold’s most subversive movie, and it’s many things, but bad ain’t one of them.