The 1990s were good times for Arnold’s career, which saw him branch out into a number of new roles while being conservative with his action movie choices. It started off with the mammothly successful True Lies but by the early 2000s, the action icon began seeing his first diminished returns from movies with a lot of explosions. The decade also saw him take a nearly 10 year hiatus from movies to embrace a political career.
True Lies (1994) – Harry Tasker
After the less than stellar performance of Last Action Hero, Arnold finally found the right balance of action and comedy with 1994’s True Lies, and that answer was to lean a little harder on the action and to surround himself with a stellar cast—plus teaming up with Cameron again.
This time, he plays Harry Tasker, who to his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a boring yet bizarrely muscle-bound software salesman who travels a lot for work. In reality, Harry is an elite secret agent who works for a covert government agency called Omega Sector that you’ve never heard of.
The movie begins with a preface mission for Harry, which echoes the structure of James Bond movies. And, just like many Bond movies, the mission is separate from the main plot, but involves circumstances and characters that come back later in the story. When Cameron borrows, he borrows from the best.
The main plot involves a group of terrorists stealing a nuclear device. It also destroys his suburban identity and forces him to reveal his real job to Helen and his daughter, played by a young Eliza Dushku. The cast also features Tia Carrere, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Grant Heslov, and Charlton Heston in a small role as the one-eye supervisor of the spy agency.
When it was made, True Lies was the most expensive movie ever produced with a budget over $100 million (remember that crazy Harrier jet scene). It was actually meant to be the first in a light-hearted Bond-like spy franchise with True Lies 2 slated for 2002. But, after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Cameron abandoned the series idea, saying terrorism wasn’t something that could be treated so lightly on film.
The opening sequence shows Harry infiltrating a part in a highly secured mansion in the snowy mountains of…some exotic location. After SCUBA diving under the ice to gain access to the property, he strips down into a tuxedo and goes about collecting some intelligence.
On the way out, his presence becomes known to the guards and he chooses to make a loud getaway, detonating some C4 he hid earlier and pulling a Glock 19 pistol on the property guards.
The script calls for a .45 ACP Glock, which would be a Glock 21, but a G19 ended up in the scene instead. The script also had Harry using a Glock through the whole movie, but Harry carries a Ruger KP90 for the rest of the film.
Harry uses the Glock 19 throughout the entire chase through the woods outside of the mansion as he makes his way to a rendezvous with his partners in a van. The sequences is expertly done, remaining funny and suspenseful throughout without being goofy or bloody: a balance few filmmakers have been able to strike. And Cameron keeps it consistent through the whole runtime.
As I said before, Harry carries a Ruger KP90 pistol for the rest of the movie, usually in a shoulder holster. It seems that the KP90 is the standard sidearm of Omega Sector, as Albert “Gibb” Gibson (Tom Arnold) and Faisil (Grant Heslov) also carry them in several scenes.
We see the KP90 the most during the chase scene that begins with the gunfight in the public bathroom in the film’s first act. The chase, which sees Arnold atop a police horse chasing a terrorist on a motorcycle, goes through Central Park, NYC and ends on the roof of the Marriott Hotel, with Harry dangling from the horses reins in front of the hotel’s sign.
While its never actually used or even seen, in this x-ray produced by Omega Sector’s security system, we see Harry carrying a Desert Eagle pistol of unknown model in a shoulder holster. It’s the only time the gun is hinted at.
During one of the more humorous storylines in the film, Harry pulls a Beretta 92FS to “interrogate” Simon (Paxton) after catching him attempting to seduce his wife. It’s the only time we see Harry with one, but Juno Skinner (Carrere) later uses a Beretta 92SB-C.
When Harry and the Omega Sector agents gear up to raid Simon’s trailer, we see they are armed with HK94A3s that have been chopped down and converted to full auto to stand in for H&K MP5A3s. The guns aren’t seen much and are mostly slung on the agents shoulders.
The SWAT team members escorting the news reporters to the skyscraper at the end are also carrying the guns.
Heckler & Koch P9S
After escaping from the enemy iterrogator and freeing Helen, Harry takes an H&K P9S pistol from one of the downed bad guys who he takes out with a meat hook. He stows it when he picks up an enemy’s AKM, but draws it again when the AKM runs dry. He then has it knocked away by a bad guy and we don’t see it again.
Harry mows down a few terrorists with a captured AKM assault rifle, fired in full auto from the hip, as is Arnold’s style.
But…wait a second…there is actually a shot of Harry aiming and firing the rifle while shooting out the lights in the terrorist compound. Extraordinary.
When you bring up the MAC-10 scene from True Lies around gun people, they almost certainly remember the part where Helen drops a bad guy’s MAC-10 down a wooden staircase.
As the gun tumbles down each step, it begins to fire in erratic bursts, incidentally shooting a number of bad guys, until it finally comes to a rest on the ground, firing one last round like a belch.
Of course, merely dropping a MAC-10 or any firearm can’t cause a runaway firing like what’s depicted in the movie, and the show Mythbusters even debunked it on one of their episodes.
Later, Harry also uses the MAC-10 in a more traditional manner, then he picks up another one and fires them both at the same time, crossed at the wrist, taking out bad guys literally left and right.
While it’s not exactly a gun, it has a bunch of guns on it. I couldn’t go through this list without mentioning, and showing the most excellent Harrier jet scene from the film’s final act. While today we’d assume they pulled this scene off with green screens and CGI, but Cameron actually got a real Harrier from the U.S. military and hung it from a crane to shoot these scenes.
Eraser (1996) – Deputy U.S. Marshal John Kruger
Arnold’s follow-up to True Lies was the special-effects-heavy Eraser in which he plays a U.S. Deputy Marshal who is the best at getting a witness set up with a new identity, and rescuing those in witness protection when they get in trouble, which is demonstrated to great effect with the opening scene depicting a mob enforment being tracked down by his old crew under his assumed identity.
Just as the bad guys are about to kill the witness and his wife, John Kruger shows up and dispatches the bad guys with a suppressed pistol, which starts out as a Walther PPK, but changes a couple times.
Heckler & Koch P7M13SD
Even though in the shadowy scenes before Kruger takes off his ski mask, he’s carrying a PPK. It changes briefly to what looks like a High Standard Sharpshooter M, a .22 LR target pistol.
Finally, during the outdoor scene on the lawn, Kruger is using a Heckler & Koch P7M13SD. In theory, this could be another gun he had on him, but it’s most likely a continuity error.
This pistol is the same carried by Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard.
Rocky Mountain Arms Stakeout O/U Shotgun
Shorty shotguns with pistol grips are kind of Arnold’s thing. He used one as the T-800 through the bulk of Terminator 2 and often posed with them for promotional materials and used them in other movies.
The cut-down scattergun he uses in this movie is probably the coolest.
Unlike most sawed-offs you see in movies, the Rocky Mountain Arms “Stakeout” is an over/under instead of a side-by-side, giving it a bulkier and meaner look.
It has a black synthetic foregrip and a black polymer pistol grip. We get some really good close-ups of the shotgun’s action as Kruger loads it—in one we can even see the brass printed with “12 gauge Federal” markings, but the shells are obviously dummies with dimpled primers.
At one point, Kruger fires the shotgun with one hand and a suppressed Glock with the other.
Despite switching up guns in the opening scene, Kruger carries a Glock 17 pistol as his primary sidearm throughout the film.
Sometimes the barrel is swapped out for a Glock 17 Pro threaded barrel for attaching a suppressor, which he uses in the safehouse sequence.
He later steals a different Glock 17 from a bad guy in the warehouse on the docks.
Desert Eagle Mark XIX
Schiff (Michael Papajohn) carries a Desert Eagle Mark XIX as his primary sidearm. When the dirty deputies turn on Kruger on the plane, he takes Schiff’s pistol and keeps in through the parachuting scene and hangs on to it all the way to the zoo scene, where he uses it to shoot a giant alligator in the face.
That’s right, not only is Arnold back with another Desert Eagle, but he uses it to shoot a gigantic, horribly rendered CGI gator, right in the face. And then he says…
Beretta 92FS pistols are carried by a number of bad guys in this movie, and during the warehouse scene on the docks, Kruger gets his hands on one and uses it along with a Glock 17 he also acquires, but he doesn’t hang on to it for long.
As we find in many Arnold movies, this is the part where he shoots guns dry and tosses them aside, picking up a freshly loaded one from the next batch of downed bad guys.
Benelli M3 Super 90
When he first arrives at the docks, Kruger is carrying a Benelli M3 Super 90 semi-auto shotgun with a top-folding stock.
He’s carrying it when the bad guys armed with the high-tech railguns destroy half the building. The bolt on his gun is actually melted to the receiver, rendering it useless. Kruger tosses it to a thug searching for him. He picks it up and the sniper, through the railgun’s advanced x-ray scope, thinks it’s Kruger and kills him.
Through the entire movie, Kruger et al are running from and dodging blue sparky blasts from high-tech railguns, around which the movie’s flimsy plot revolves.
These things fire aluminum rounds at hyper velocities via electromagnetic propulsion.
The guns are pure Hollywood, though the concept has been adapted to artillery-sized weapons on U.S. Navy ships, a power source for a handheld version is still a fantasy.
So are the crazy scopes that these railguns have, which can see through walls and even see its target’s skeleton through their bodies.
Of course, in the climax, Kruger finally gets his hands on not one, but two railguns and proceeds to destroy the bad guys’ day.
End of Days (1999) – Jericho Cane
End of Days is kind of a weird choice for Arnold. The movie attempted to ride a short-lived wave of popularity associated with CG-laden occult horror movies. The Omen remake, Stigmata, Constantine, all these movies tried to take advantage of new CG tech that could make previously unimaginable film monsters a possibility, plus the marketing in the late 90s made as much as it could of the approaching year 2000.
The role wasn’t right for Arnold, and it could arguably mark the point in his career where his stardom began to wane.
He plays Jericho Cane, a burnt-out private security specialist, who is a suicidal alcoholic and burdened with a heavy pile of guilt after his wife and daughter were killed in a contract hit. He’s also lost his religion because of it.
We’re actually supposed to believe that a guy with Arnold’s physique is a full-blow alcoholic who mixes an old piece of pizza, some stale Chinese noodles, and beer together in a blender as his breakfast. Not Arnold. Bruce Willis, yeah, that would be more believable.
Anyway, via a security assignment he’s working on in New York City, he runs into a girl who is supposed to be the vessel for the Antichrist, and begins protecting her from Satan himself, who has inhabited the body of Gabriel Byrne on Earth in preparation for the approaching millennium, which will allow the Antichrist to be born…I think. Apparently the Prince of Darkness uses the same calendar we do.
It kind of turns into a weird mess from there, with underground priest warriors, a bunch of other plots, and even an urban crucifixion scene. Though, in theory it could have been good, this one was a clear miss critically and didn’t do well at the box office either.
We meet Jericho Cane during a rough morning. He has his Glock 34 pistol pointed at his forehead as he contemplates suicide, something we kind of get the idea he does a lot, if not every morning.
When this movie was made in 1998, the Glock 34 was a brand new model and was released early to get some screen-time in the movie.
The pistol even gets a mention in a line of dialogue. When arguing with the priests, Cane says, “Between your faith and my Glock 9mm, I take my Glock.”
The Glock 34 is a competition version of the Glock 17 and similar to its predecssor, the Glock 17L, which is still made. The G34 has a slightly shorter slide and barrel than the 17L and has an extended magazine release, extended slide stop lever, and adjustable rear sights. The sides at the front of the slide are slanted instead of squared, giving it a different profile from other Glock models, and the top of the slide and sections on the slide’s interior are milled out, reducing front-end muzzle weight to better balance the pistol and reduce the weight of the slide.
This is the same model, albeit highly customized, used by Keanu Reeves in John Wick 2.
Cane looses the pistol when the Satan worshippers outside the church attack him, putting a bullet through his hand.
In a heavily over-used movie trope, Cane sometimes keeps a pair of Glock 26 subcompact pistols hidden in his sleeves on unseen clips of some kind, which he can whip out at a moment’s notice.
Most notably, he uses the hidden pistols against the detectives who were previously his aids, but were since possessed by the devil.
After the crucifixion scene before which Cane loses his G34, he goes to the security company’s armory and grabs a Glock 17 3rd Generation, which he carries for the rest of the movie. Incidentally, this is the second time Arnold is crucified in a movie (see Conan the Barbarian).
When fleeing from Satan on the subway, Christine (Robin Tunney) gets a crash course in how to use the pistol before Cane gives it to her.
The 3rd Gen G17 was also brand new at the time and was first shown in this movie.
Custom Heckler & Koch MP5A3
Before the final showdown with Satan at the church, Cane also grabs something else when he goes to his company’s armory for that Glock 17.
he picks up a customized Heckler & Koch MP5A3 fitted with an RM Equipment M203Pl grenade launcher.
To mount the too-long grenade launcher to the submachine gun, a special mount is uses that replaces the handguard of the MP5 and a large extended muzzle brake is added to provide a front attachment point for th launcher.
Cane uses the gun with a BLACKHAWK! Chalker Sling.
In the arsenal, Cane also grabs three fictional “40mm” rounds, two of which are bright yellow, one of which is red. The yellow are marked with API, presumably standing for “Armor Piercing Incendiary.” The red ones are marked HE, for high-explosive. This correlates with how they are later used.
If you listen, you can hear Cane grab a fourth grenade. In a turning point, Cane decides to put his faith in…well, his faith and leave the loaded MP5 behind.
This third Terminator sequel plays on the same structure as the previous movies, with a new Terminator model sent back in time to target John Connor in his early adulthood. Arnold returns as a Terminator model who is reprogrammed and sent back not to primarily protect Connor, but to protect the woman who would become his wife, Kate Brewster (Claire Danes).
This was the first Terminator not to have Cameron’s involvement, and it showed. It was by far the weakest installment at the time, and Arnold’s age was beginning to show, especially when playing a character we’ve seen him playing since the early 80s.
Still, it’s a fun action romp with a lot of CG explosions, and a good amount of guns…a whole casket-full, even.
Remington 870 Trench Gun
The guns of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines were largely unremarkable. Is this because it’s the first Terminator without Cameron at the helm? Possibly. There a few mistakes that Jim would never have let slip by, like the H&K UMP-45 supposedly interred in 1997, in yet another of Sarah’s weapons caches, when the gun wasn’t made until 1999.
But, they did give Arnold another shotgun. This time, it’s a full-sized Remington 870 trench gun with a full-length magazine tube, a custom foregrip, heat shield, and a U.S.M.C-style support clamp, which would normally have a bayonet lug on the bottom.
Browning M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun
There was also this Browning M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun in the T3 weapons cache, fitted with a drum magazine, a shoulder strap, and a special side-mounted handle and trigger so it can be fired one handed from the hip.
It’s used to recreate a version of the Minigun scene from T2, where the Terminator shoots a powerful machine gun at a horde of police cars, but doesn’t kill anyone per his directives. You can see a full-auto Glock 18 with an extended magazine tucked in his belt.
The Expendables 2 ( 2012) – Trench Mauser
Between 2003 and 2012, Arnold took on the strangest role of his career as the real-life governor of California.
Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy in the 2003 California recall election for Governor of California on August 6, 2003, episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The recall election was something of a farce, with a whole laundry list of weird candidates.
Even though he had never held public office and his political views were unknown to most Californians, his name recognition carried him through to victory. His candidacy immediately became national and international news, with media outlets dubbing him the “Governator” and “The Running Man,” and calling the recall election “Total Recall.”
On October 7, 2003, the recall election resulted in Gov. Gray Davis being removed from office with 55.4% of the Yes vote in favor of a recall. Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California under the second question on the ballot with 48.6% of the vote to choose a successor to Davis.
After he left office, Arnold returned to movies, albeit in a limited capacity.
He had a very brief role in the original The Expendables (2010), a team-up movie helmed by Sylvester Stallone with a cast of action stars from the 80s and 90s.
He returned as Trench Mauser in an expanded role in The Expendables 2 (2012).
AA-12 Full-Auto Shotgun
In the film’s opening sequence, the mercenary team find the hostages they’ve been sent to rescue, only to discover one of them is Mauser. He escapes with them, but leaves the story until the third act, when he returns with Church (Bruce Willis) to help in the final gun battle.
Hale Ceasar (Terry Crews) uses an AA-12 shotgun fitted with a weaponlight and a drum magazine as he did for the finale of the first movie. He later gives the weapon to “Trench” Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who uses it for the first portion of the airport shootout before running out of ammo.
When the AA-12 shotgun runs out of ammo, Mauser picks up an M4A1 carbine and shoots it one handed from a moving car, proving he’s still got those AR pistol skills he showed in Commando.