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by Jason F. Koenigsberg

There will never be another career in the history of cinema like the one of Arnold Schwarzenegger. From an immigrant who could barely speak English, to a box office titan, to the governor of the largest populated state in the nation, he has accomplished more in motion pictures and politics than most people could ever dream. His acting career has had three different and distinct phases. He evolved from being a bodybuilder to an action star, to one of the biggest box office stars of all time. Then focused his career on civil service venturing into politics and using his celebrity status to become the Governator. Since his term in office ended he has been dividing his time as a senior citizen between being an actor in more modestly budgeted films than during his 80’s heyday, and still being heavily involved in civic-minded duties.

 Schwarzenegger’s career can be broken down into three distinct phases. His breakout as one of the biggest action icons of all time throughout most of the 1980s, his decision to become a more responsible movie star during the ’90s and then his return to acting after his term as the governor of California. Each stage has their own merits but he is most likely going to always be remembered as the Austrian Oak from some of the biggest movies of the Reagan era.

From his big breakthrough as Conan the Barbarian (1982) to his star-making role in The Terminator (1984) to his first leading role after being in office with The Last Stand (2013) and everything in between, Arnold’s career has taken two major turns that have altered his legacy and shaped the actor he is. Without any further ado, here is the breakdown of the great Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career one that has been embedded in our pop culture in so many aspects for nearly the past forty years.

Phase 1: Breakout as the Biggest Action Star of his Era 1982-1991

Arnold as ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and the T-800 in ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’

Sure Arnold starred in a few motion pictures prior to his first major role as Conan. He was in the ridiculously bad B-movie Hercules in New York (1970) where his voice was dubbed and he was credited as ‘Arnold Strong’ since the producers thought that his unpronounceable surname would never sell. Along with supporting parts in Stay Hungry (1976) and The Villain (1979), for all intents and purposes, the Arnold that movie audiences know and love began in 1982 when John Milius cast him in Conan the Barbarian. Prouced by Dino De Laurentiis and Edward Pressman from a screenplay by Oliver Stone, this is far from the big-budget sword and sorcery epic that audiences would expect today and it is highly unlikely this film would ever get greenlit with all of the violence, nudity, and lack of dialogue that the film contains. John Milius did not care about the marketing of this film and it was never intended to sell toys for children. He wanted to make a film of his vision of the Robert E. Howard character attacking the hippie movement that he detested from the previous decade. Milius fought hard for Arnold to have the lead role and went head to head against Dino De Laurentiis who insisted on cutting much of Schwarzenegger’s dialogue because of his thick accent. Through all their compromises, the result was a hit. Conan the Barbarian was a big hit and one that changed action movies for the next decade. 

Schwarzenegger showed that he could carry a movie on his own and would do so with less impressive results with his next film, the PG-rated and tamer sequel Conan the Destroyer (1984). But then he teamed up with up and coming filmmaker James Cameron on his sci-fi thriller The Terminator and then Arnold went from an actor who could carry a motion picture, to a big star. This was the film that made him a household name and solidified himself along with writer/director James Cameron, and producer Gale Anne Hurd as major forces to be reckoned with in the movie business. 

He continued the trend of starring as characters based on the work of Robert E. Howard in Red Sonja (1985) with Brigitte Nielson. A step down from the massively successful Terminator, but now Arnold was going to be courted with bigger scripts, bigger budgets, and bigger name directors and producers. He was a hot commodity, one of the biggest rising stars in Hollywood and his next few films would give Arnie the reputation of what types of films he excels at and are some of the titles he is most remembered for today over three decades later. 

Commando came out in 1985 and this was a non-stop, action-packed thrill ride that Schwarzenegger would become synonymous with. In a taut 90 minutes, Arnold achieved the type of action movie he was going to make. Fun, loud, in your face bloodbaths. Showing off his physique while pumping thousands of bullets out of machine guns aimed at nameless baddies who drop like flies. Life was not a precious commodity in Arnold’s movies, just collateral damage (more on that later) and high body counts. Arnold now not only started to displace Sylvester Stallone as the top action star of the era but now Stallone and other actors started to follow the blueprint that Arnold and the stylized violence his movies laid out.

After Commando, his next huge hit was Predator (1987) directed by John McTiernan. This movie elevated both the director and star since Predator was a B-movie and had no business being as electrifyingly entertaining as it was with its jungle locales, imaginative antagonist, and the most testosterone-filled cast of all time. In between Commando and Predator Schwarzenegger starred in John Irvin’s Raw Deal (1986) a film where the title fits perfectly. It was a more minimalist approach to the loud and bombastic action showcases Arnold would be known for and is a quieter and slower action film that feels lost in the rest of his oeuvre during the 1980s.

Schwarzenegger continued his string of hits in big budget action movies starring as the lead character in the Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) adaptation The Running Man (1987). A sort of ahead of its time action picture that is often thrown into the pile of cheesy 80’s flicks because of its brightly colored costumes and Harold Faltermeyer score. This is a quintessential Arnold movie of his prime and if it were not because of the legacies created by Conan, The Terminator and Predator films it might be looked at more favorably in his filmography. The same could be said for his next picture teaming up with director Walter Hill for a buddy cop movie Red Heat (1988) alongside Jim Belushi. Hill basically started the buddy cop action craze of the decade with 48 Hrs. (1982) and this was Arnie’s first foray into the genre that had become a mainstay of 80s action cinema since Shane Black’s script to Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon (1987) turned out to be one of the biggest action films of the decade that did not star Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Red Heat was a clever attempt at combining action with Cold War commentary with Arnold playing a Soviet cop forced to team up with a brash Chicago police officer to catch a dangerous drug lord who killed his partner and fled to the USA. The jokes sort of write themselves in Red Heat as Schwarzenegger does not get any of Belushi’s pop culture references (“Who is Dirty Harry?”). Arnold maintains an all business demeanor which is amazing considering the funniest part of Red Heat is his flat-top haircut. But most probably agreed that Schwarzenegger had too much charisma and carried the film on his own, overshadowing Jim Belushi. But this would not mark the end of Arnold sharing the spotlight in future pictures, just not in the same manner as a Lethal Weapon movie.

His next film would be the biggest gamble of his career and one that ironically would pay off in dividends for him, as well as his director and co-star who would share above the title billing in a more memorable fashion. Since his breakout role in Conan the Barbarian, he had done nothing but action pictures. Arnold basically defined action movies up to that point and had all the biggest producers and screenwriters either calling him or trying to replicate his star-making formula. He wanted to break out of that mold and diversify a little bit, show the world that he could act in other genres. Comedy would be a tricky endeavor for him to pull off since his onscreen persona was that of a tough guy. He ended up picking the perfect script to use his unique physique as a tool for comedic purposes. He had the right director attached with Ivan Reitman, one of the hottest names in Hollywood since Ghostbusters (1984) and Danny DeVito would star opposite him so the visual jokes between Arnold and his diminutive costar would be apparent. The movie was Twins (1988) which paired Schwarzenegger and DeVito as part of a science experiment playing long lost brothers separated at birth and would turn out to be another big hit at the box office for everyone involved. However one could argue at least Arnold could, that Twins would be the biggest hit of his career for his wallet. Even though the two big stars and director were proven commodities, Universal was reluctant to greenlight the film because they did not think anyone wanted to see Schwarzenegger in a comedy. So Arnold, DeVito, and Reitman all gave up their salaries in exchange for 100% of the royalties to be divided three ways. Basically, the three most famous people involved made Twins for free. But they made it all up on the backend. The two stars and director make more money off of Twins royalties than anything else from their career. Every time that movie is on TV, or someone purchases a DVD of it the money goes right to them.

Twins would be a big hit but he would follow that up with two even bigger hits in 1990. That summer he made one of the most violent and provocative sci-fi action blockbusters of all time working with Dutch director Paul Verhoeven on Total Recall. Verhoeven was fresh off his first American blockbuster hit Robocop (1987) and Arnie campaigned to work with him on his next big production. Total Recall was based on a Philip K. Dick short story and had long been gestating bouncing from different screenwriters, and producers and studios until finally Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna from Carolco greenlit the movie with a huge budget banking on its red-hot director and uber-famous action star. Total Recall was one of the biggest hits and the year and one of the most outlandish blockbusters ever given a wide release. But Schwarzenegger still had another big movie and a few more tricks up his sleeve when he reunited with Ivan Reitman on Kindergarten Cop (1990). Arnold continued to expand his action repertoire with Kindergarten Cop as a tough loner LA police officer trying to bust a drug dealer for murder while hiding out undercover in a small Oregon town as a substitute kindergarten teacher. The scenario seems like an ideal fish out of water movie for Arnold to play with his action and comedic chops. Plus Ivan Reitman never makes just a straight comedy. His films usually feel like dramas with comedic moments built in and he relies on the performances to bring the laughs out of the script. Kindergarten Cop has a lot of serious moments with children in peril and those scenes work as seamlessly as the moments with Arnold trying to reach the kids and convince his principal that he is a legitimate teacher.

1990 was a huge year for Schwarzenegger with Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop as two of the biggest and most diverse hits of his career, but 1991 would be the one that changed everything for Arnold with the release of his highest grossing film ever, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This was the culmination of Arnold’s career starting with Conan and The Terminator. Director James Cameron wisely scripted the film to play on Schwarzenegger as the hero icon that he established over the years since the original Terminator. He made Arnold’s T-800 character the hero sent back to protect humanity. The result was the biggest and most crowd-pleasing R-rated blockbuster of all time. It also marked a major change from Arnold’s previous films. This was the path he was set on, making bigger movies with a gentler touch to the R-rating.

Phase 2: A Kinder, Friendlier Arnold Schwarzenegger 1991-2003

Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater in ‘Last Action Hero’

One could argue that this phase started with Kindergarten Cop or T2. Schwarzenegger had become a household name and wanted to extend his brand further than the limited R-rated action movie audiences. So he made his first major PG-13 summer tentpole picture reuniting him with Predator director John McTiernan for Last Action Hero (1993). A sort of meta-action comedy satire of sorts with all the big explosions and guns expected with a Schwarzenegger movie. The problem was Last Action Hero was released a week after Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, a gamechanger in the world of special effects blockbusters even more so than T2 was a few years earlier. Last Action Hero bombed at the box office and the critical reception was less than kind. It was the first major disappointment in Arnold’s career as an A-list star. It was also his first venture into the world of PG-13 action. Last Action Hero remains a misunderstood picture that was a victim of bad timing and possibly too many cooks in the kitchen with constant rewrites. Maybe the film was too ambitious for its time or stopped to blow up some gigantic set pieces to maintain its status as an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle. Either way, the film has since gained a sort of cult status which is not common for $100 million dollar plus production. But at the time it meant Arnold needed to make sure his next film on his quest to being a more family-friendly entertainer was not another dud.

It was also around this time of the early 90’s that Schwarzenegger started getting more politically involved in the Republican Party. He married a Kennedy, Maria Shriver back in the mid-’80s but was now becoming more civic-minded and then-President George H.W. Bush used Arnold’s celebrity status to appoint him a job in the department of health and physical education. We saw him do this job as himself in a cameo role in the Ivan Reitman political comedy Dave (1993). This was where Schwarzenegger’s government aspirations became well known to the public. Few probably thought he would ever get elected to a major office, but American’s knew where he standed in regards to our government.

After Last Action Hero failed, Arnold turned to his friend and director of the Terminator films James Cameron to entrust his skills in a major summer blockbuster that would not disappoint. Their third collaboration would be a major success with True Lies (1994). A sort of Arnold as a James Bond superspy hero that also has a family and has to keep his espionage work a secret from his wife and daughter. It was a great success. Audiences and critics loved True Lies and even though it was Rated-R it was certainly a much softer R than his previous hits like the Terminator pictures and Total Recall. Minus one F-bomb and a few sound effects of necks snapping, True Lies would have easily been PG-13. Arnold was once again successful at revamping his movie star image slightly. True Lies was the third highest grossing film of 1994 behind Forrest Gump and The Lion King and ahead of other action-packed summer blockbusters Speed and Clear and Present Danger. Schwarzenegger was still a bigger star than Keanu Reeves and Harrison Ford.

But the celebrations for True Lies would be short-lived. That fall saw the release of Schwarzenegger reteam with his director Ivan Reitman and co-star Danny DeVito from Twins for the oddball ‘comedy’ (I am using the quotes of purpose) Junior. Three was not the charm for Schwarzenegger and Reitman as this would universally be received as the worst of their collaborations. Here Arnold plays a doctor who artificially inseminates himself and gives birth. Junior is one of the strangest movies because it was advertised as a comedy, but it felt like they forgot to add any jokes. Other than a few moments we see Arnold in a dress or talk about his nipples being extra sensitive, there is no reason to laugh. It almost feels like they pitched the movie as Arnold being pregnant and then used a screenplay that was not meant to be a comedy about the joys of pregnancy and artificial insemination. Junior would astoundingly earn Schwarzenegger a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and the esteemed Roger Ebert would be one of the sole critics to give Junior a positive review especially praising Arnold for his dramatic skills at handling the material. Ebert had a point, but the movie around him was so dull that it did not even matter that Arnold was in it. Plus Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson and the rest of its supporting cast was neutered and were not given any material worthy of their talents.

So Junior was another failure, albeit on a smaller scale than Last Action Hero and Arnold wanted to return big with his next film back in the driver’s seat of a major summer blockbuster. The kind that people always associated him with. Director Chuck Russell was hired fresh off his biggest hit The Mask (1994) starring Jim Carrey. Arnold was going to go all out and showcase to audiences what they had come to expect from an Arnold movie, all the muscles, machine guns, explosions and one-liners that he had become synonymous with. The film was Eraser (1996) and in the crowded blockbuster summer of 1996, it performed decently but not record-smashing like his previous summer outings. The landscape of the summer blockbuster had changed. The big action stars like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Van Damme were being erased by special effects. Independence Day and Twister dominated the summer months of 1996. Arnold was good as himself and his friendly onscreen persona as the hero, but he just could not compete against The Fresh Prince and city-sized alien ships blowing up national landmarks. Eraser utilized state of the art special effects but they underwhelmed compared to the scale of the effects on Independence Day. Schwarzenegger had met his match, but he was not beaten by another physical specimen or replaced by a younger, sexier star. He lost his luster because of machines (like the one he played and brought to the forefront in the Terminator movies). Special effects would now rule the summer months and they have ever since Independence Day. Some claim Eraser is the logiest of Schwarzenegger’s big action vehicles. I think it is a solid picture, possibly dated now because of the plot and its early CGI effects. But Arnold himself and the rest of the cast including Vanessa Williams, James Caan and James Coburn all do a stellar job making Eraser a good movie, but not a genre-defining film like his earlier pictures. Similar Red Heat and The Running Man, it sort of has gotten lost over the years.

Unfazed by Eraser, Arnold was set on continuing his one big summer action film to please those audiences, and one friendly film to please his kids and family audiences. That November Arnold flexed his comedic chops once more in the Christmas comedy Jingle All the Way. Reviled by critics at the time and a modest success it has since become a holiday mainstay and replays on cable every holiday season. It was an excuse for him to make silly faces and act tough without a gun in modern-day suburbia settings. Jingle All the Way is actually a neat little time capsule of a movie. Before online shopping and Cyber Mondays were actual things. People had to go to retail stores, mainly malls, and wait on long lines to purchase the hottest toys, video games, or electronics. Jingle All the Way is actually a slice of Americana during the Clinton era before 9/11 and terrorism gripped families lives. When the worst thing that upper-middle-class people had to worry about was getting their kid the best Christmas present they could so they could be cool or cooler than all the other kids at school. Wow, times were a lot simpler back in the ’90s. Parents would get into fights at WalMart’s and Toys ‘R Us retailers over Tickle Me Elmo’s or Ferbies. Black Friday is still a big deal and the malls are still overcrowded during the holiday season, but the online shopping option has changed the landscape and, as silly as it sounds, Jingle All the Way is no longer as relevant as it was.

Despite an inconsistent track record at the box office, Arnold was still a big enough star to command huge paychecks and in the summer of 1997, he would earn his biggest one yet, over $20 million dollars and top billing in the fourth Batman movie the now infamous Batman and Robin (1997). Enough has already been written about the abysmal nadir of the superhero movies and how Batman and Robin has now become a punchline as much as an actual movie. Needless to say, Arnold (along with the rest of the cast and crew involved) did not bring his A-game. He was dreadfully miscast as Mr.Freeze and decided to smoke expensive Cuban cigars his friend Jon Bon Jovi gave him during his takes even though a flame should hurt and weaken Mr. Freeze. His dialogue was beyond silly with “freeze, chill, ice” and other euphemisms for cold being in every sentence. It was if he had never acted before. Batman and Robin made back its budget but was the lowest grossing of the Batman franchise and there would not be another film with the Caped Crusader until Christopher Nolan’s reboot in 2005.

Schwarzenegger was then struck a personal blow when he had open heart surgery and took a year off from acting. When he finally returned it seemed as if he missed the spotlight more than Hollywood missed him. His next big film was End of Days (1999) from B-movie extraordinaire Peter Hyams. It was one of the many pieces of pop culture that tried to cash in on the Y2K hysteria and that the world as we knew it would end because the calendar was going to change from 1999 to 2000. Another film of its time but unlike Jingle All the Way, End of Days does not deserve to be rediscovered. It is an overlong, bloated and overly serious bore about Satan coming to New York City on the eve of the millennium to find himself a bride. Only Arnold Schwarzenegger’s New York Cop can stop the Devil himself and save the girl. End of Days had none of the humor Schwarzenegger’s audiences had become accustomed to with his previous action flicks. It’s dour mood and visuals made an already uninspiring film even less fun to sit through. Gabriel Byrne was good as the Devil but Arnold seemed old and tired and just going through the motions. The days when an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicles demanded box office respect and towered over the competition seemed over as it was easily defeated opening weekend by Toy Story 2 and once again showing that the digital age was no match for Schwarzenegger’s muscles and charisma.

Arnold’s career as a top box office draw seemed to be dwindling much like his friend Stallone’s had a few years earlier. Schwarzenegger benefited from working with some of the top visionary directors in the primes of their careers such as James Cameron, Paul Verhoeven, and John McTiernan. He carried the load for some innovative pictures that were groundbreaking influential movies. He still had a few tricks up his sleeve and wanted to press on as a big name star in big budget movies. His next film, The Sixth Day (2000) was a sci-fi actioner about cloning. On the surface it was just a milder retread of Total Recall, once again fitting into Arnie’s motif of being more family-friendly and less of the kill em all and ask questions later reputation he had the prior decade. The Sixth Day actually is one of his better films during the latter part of his second phase and gets away with a lot of violence and innuendo pushing the PG-13 rating it had to the limit. He does his role well and the cast is well rounded and supports him and the anti-cloning message is also very much a sign of the times. It was just that nobody bothered to pay to see it.

Another stinker at the box office for Arnold and he wanted to get himself out of this rut. His next film would be impacted negatively by situations way out of his control. Schwarzenegger teamed up with Andrew Davis, the director of The Fugitive (1993) who had also fallen on hard times since that film earned a surprise Academy Award Best Picture nomination. They both needed a hit brought their A-games to Collateral Damage (2002) and the early trailers looked very promising. But then 9/11 happened and changed the world for a lot of people. For Arnold, it meant that Collateral Damage originally slated for release in the fall of 2001 had to be scratched. The plot involved a terrorist attack that killed the family of a firefighter (Schwarzenegger). Devastated he goes on a rampage and hunts down the Colombian terrorists that murdered his family. Warner Bros. felt that it would be ill-timed to go ahead with the films release suspended all of the marketing and advertising a mere two weeks before its release. They pushed back the release to October 5, 2001, then to January 2002, and then finally released it February 8th, 2002. They did so with heavy edits to the plot, removing a lot of the scenes that involved the terrorists, airplane hijacking, the actual explosive attacks, and anything that could be deemed unpatriotic. The result was a very lackluster re-edit that lost whatever positive qualities Collateral Damage may have offered. It was a dud and since it flopped and has not inspired any sort of cult following or curiosity from fans, the original cut of Collateral Damage will likely never be seen (if it even still exists for that matter).

Three consecutive films underperforming at the box office that Arnold was the headline of had never happened in his career. Four if you include Batman and Robin as a Schwarzenegger flop. His high ranking Hollywood status was about to flatline if he did not have a big hit his next time out so he went back to the well and decided it was time to dawn the black leather jacket and sunglasses again as the Terminator. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released on the July 4th weekend of 2003. Always a big weekend at the box office. But unlike the second film which was the biggest hit of the year and still the biggest hit of Arnold’s career, T3 was met with apathy and did well but not the big numbers people were anticipating. Like all his previous films from the 90s Terminator 3 was a mild Rated-R picture and had more emphasis on CGI effects but they did not look nearly as groundbreaking and imaginative as T2 had twelve years earlier.

Realizing that his movie star prime may have passed. Arnold Schwarzenegger took his life and career in a completely different direction when he announced that summer he would run for governor of California in the special recall election against Democratic Governor Grey Davis. The headlines of ‘Governator’ and ‘Total Recall’ were rampant. Inevitably the circus that was the recall election went down as a historic one with Schwarzenegger beating established politicians as well as other celebrities (Gary Coleman) and even a porn star (Mary Carey) and became the most famous and recognized governor in US history.

Phase 3: Return to Acting in Smaller Scale Dramatic Roles 2013-Present

Sure in between the time Arnold was governor he acted in a few movies like Around the World in 80 Days (2004) with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan where he filmed his few minutes before being elected and he had a cameo role in The Expendables (2010), for all intents and purposes Arnold was not really acting and was focusing his time on being the Governator. His first film back after his term ended was in the little-seen but highly underrated action flick The Last Stand (2013). Released in January, which is usually a dumping ground for films the studios have no faith in The Last Stand did not perform well and it is a real shame because this modern western is one of the best films Arnold starred in this century. Even the marketing campaign went out of their way to make it seem like it was a buddy picture with Arnold and Johnny Knoxville, hoping to appeal to a younger demographic. That did not work either. What The Last Stand did work as is a film for fathers who enjoyed Arnold during his prime to take their sons to see an Arnold Schwarzenegger picture in theaters and share that experience after seeing all of his greatest hits on TV. This was a similar tactic of comfort food for the older male demographic audiences got a taste of when Stallone put on the gloves for Rocky Balboa (2006). Few people saw The Last Stand and nobody really cared that it died an unjust death at the box office but this little actioner was tailored for Arnold’s strength’s as an aging action hero (and yes he does look old) but he was surrounded by a great supporting cast including Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman, and Harry Dean Stanton on a tractor. I cannot believe more people have not discovered the joys of The Last Stand.

After that failed to rejuvenate the Arnold business, he teamed up with his old buddy and fellow has-been Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan (2013), which also came and went from theaters in the blink of an eye. Stallone and Schwarzenegger had long wanted to team up in a movie and were supposed to star opposite each other in Face/Off (1997) but that never came to fruition. Escape Plan would have worked better if it was made in the 90s, it felt like a relic from a former era, not just a film starring two action relics. It still has its charms but likely would have been far more successful and pertinent if it were made twenty years ago.

Schwarzenegger kept on trying to capture his glory days minus the humor when he led another big name but inexpensive cast in the violent and gritty cop action drama Sabotage (2014). The results were the same. Sabotage barely made a dent at the box office and the message was clear. Arnold either needed to go back to the well of an established product such as the Terminator franchise or give it up. He made Terminator: Genisys (2015) the following summer and once again audiences met the film with indifference even though it was arguably the best Terminator film since the second one. It still did not hold a candle to the James Cameron original films but Arnold was back in his comfort zone delivering the happy meal style film that fans would expect from him.

Since the failure of Terminator 5 Schwarzenegger splits his time between civic service to his country and acting in movies more sparingly. He has spoken out about promoting universal healthcare, the benefits of legalizing marijuana and stopping the political manipulation caused by gerrymandering. In between that Arnold has made some small-scale movies that warrant limited releases and are surprisingly categorized more as dramas than action flicks. He starred in the very mellow and toned down zombie film Maggie (2015) where he plays a father who cares for his daughter (Abigail Breslin) after she is bitten by a zombie and sticks with her even though the doctors have warned him what will happen. It is surprisingly one of his most subtle and nuanced performances (that once again hardly anybody saw) that seemed out of place. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a zombie movie sounds like an excuse for mass carnage and destruction with gore and bloody bodies paving the way. Instead, Maggie was like a soap opera about a father who would not give up hope that his daughter would recover from a debilitating disease. Arnold and subtly are not usually words that go together but he brought that same calm assuredness to his next leading role in the low budget revenge drama Aftermath (2017). Arnold plays a father who loses his daughter to a fluke airplane accident and demands an apology from someone involved in the tragedy. He is shunned by the airline and then goes after the air traffic controller responsible for failing to do his job. It is not what audiences or people expect from Arnold but as Ebert said in his review of Junior, the man can act and Aftermath may be his best performance on the level of straight drama.

Perhaps it is good that Arnold has toned down his over the top action star persona from the days of his prime since he is now much older and playing more calm protagonists. He is still always rumored to be going back to the well as they are making a Terminator 6, and allegedly have screenplays finished for King Conan, and a sequel to Twins called Triplets. We shall see if those screenplays ever get the green light but in the meantime, Arnold Schwarzenegger has established himself as one of the most unique and recognizable international icons of cinema. A career that has taken so many unexpected turns from his days as Mr. Universe to the capital of California in Sacramento to some of the biggest and best action movies of all time in between, there will never be another Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus, as we all know by now… He’ll be back!

Top 10 Arnold Schwarzenegger Films:

  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  2. Total Recall (1990)
  3. Predator (1987)
  4. True Lies (1994)
  5. The Terminator (1984)
  6. Commando (1985)
  7. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  8. The Running Man (1987)
  9. Kindergarten Cop (1990)
  10. Eraser (1996)

Check out this awesome video tribute to the living legend…

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