Secrecy makes the world go around. For better or worse, governments lie to their people, people lie to their friends, and spouses keep the marriage going by being incredibly selective about shared information. True Lies then, a CBS serial adaptation of the James Cameron 1994 action blockbuster, fails to look at its own title before blurting everything out in the first breath.
Notwithstanding the question of whether there were any nuggets left after the True Lies movie mined gold, this adaptation missteps the central appeal of its source early on.
For those that haven’t seen it, the movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis as a married couple, where Curtis is conveniently oblivious to Schwarzenegger’s secret job as a government spy.
Much hijinks and stakes ensue as his actions involuntarily place her in danger, and she eventually stumbles upon his hidden life.
What Is True Lies About?
This True Lies? Bang: episode one. Harry Tasker (Steve Howey) has apparently lived many decades of marital life without wife Helen (Ginger Gonzaga, She-Hulk) noticing that his business trips are more life and death than you’d expect from computer sales.
The façade is quickly blown away when accusations of cheating make way for fleeing from bad guys with guns. The secret is out! So, what happens now? Well, Helen joins the agency of course(?)!
Thus follows an empty sandwich of daytime TV at its most homogeneous. From cliché packed dialogue through bloodless action sequences and back round to tiresome wolf-whistle sexiness, True Lies feels like someone called out on their own porky pies and so is on best behaviour from now on.
Howey and Gonzaga’s relationship has none of the zest of Schwarzenegger and Curtis. Partly this is because the inherently comic physical mismatch isn’t there.
Both are clean cut stock American TV leads with nary a hair nor opinion out of place. Gonzaga’s suburban housewife schtick stretches credibility as she immediately enters body contorting combat training. Yoga can apparently ready you for any eventuality.
True Lies Official Trailer
Is True Lies Worth Watching?
If you do manage to limp past the terror attack of a pilot episode without being made, then the middle lane drive of True Lies has the usual kind of easy watch appeal that might tempt in those who want to veg out to a familiar IP.
A trip to the casino is a chance to do awkward undercover work (even if it does miss the opportunity to play with a sudden role reversal) and the old portable nuclear bomb plot keeps hold of the smallest amount of threat needed to get a shift on. It’s lying on the sofa stuff.
The team is rounded out by support from will they / won’t they / they already did Luther and Maria whose banter is less ‘bants’ and more ‘er…’.
Omar Benson Miller as Albert ‘Gib’ Gibson has better material to work with and acts as the sardonic pal always ready to needle everyone into doing something of interest: classic ‘guy in the chair’ spy stuff.
Sadly, True Lies offers nothing of note on its affidavit for the court of opinion.
The action is mediocre; the comedy hampered by indent-i-kit characters; the dialogue and scenarios straight out of every ‘marital’ show ever; and the central conceit immediately kneecapped from the get go.
The hardest truth that TV executives need to hear is that not everything needs to be a series.
Words by Mike Record
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