Last Action Hero is a 1993 American comic fantasy-action film directed and produced by John McTiernan. It is a satire of the action genre and associated clichés, containing several parodies of action films in the form of films with in the film.
The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater, a fictional Los Angeles police detective. Slater is a fictional character even within the film, the hero of the Jack Slater series of action films. Austin O'Brien co-stars as a boy who is magically transported into a parallel universe by a magical movie ticket, one inhabited by Slater and the other characters in the Slater film series. Schwarzenegger also served as the film's executive producer and plays himself as the actor portraying Jack Slater, and Charles Dance plays an assassin who escapes from the Slater world into the real world. Last Action Hero was a box office disappointment during its initial theatrical release. The film also features Art Carney's last appearance in a motion picture.
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 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as 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 wrongdoing 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 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 excitedly tells Nick of his adventure as Jack Slater IV ends, with Slater telling Dekker of his new insights on the world before driving off into the sunset.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater / himself
- Austin O'Brien as Danny Madigan
- Charles Dance as Benedict, Vivaldi's right-hand man. He is a supporting antagonist of Jack Slater IV, but becomes the true antagonist of the main film.
- Robert Prosky as Nick
- Tom Noonan as The Ripper / himself
- Frank McRae as Lieutenant Dekker
- Anthony Quinn as Tony Vivaldi, the main antagonist of Jack Slater IV until Danny's interference changes events
- Bridgette Wilson as Whitney Slater and Meredith Caprice. Whitney is Jack's daughter, and Meredith is the actress who plays her in the Slater films.
- F. Murray Abraham as John Practice, Jack's friend, revealed as a traitor. Danny says not to trust him saying he killed Mozart, referring to Abraham's Oscar-winning role in Amadeus.
- Mercedes Ruehl as Irene Madigan
- Art Carney, in his last film role, as Frank Slater
- Professor Toru Tanaka as Tough Asian Man
- Ryan Todd as Andrew Slater
- Cameo appearances
- Franco Columbu appears during the opening credits as director of Jack Slater IV.
- Tina Turner appears at the climax of Jack Slater III as the mayor of Los Angeles.
- When Danny and Jack arrive at LAPD headquarters, Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick appear outside the front door as Catherine Tramell (from Basic Instinct) and the T-1000 (from Terminator 2: Judgment Day), respectively. Stone had earlier played Schwarzenegger's wife in Total Recall.
- Inside the LAPD Headquarters, an officer shouts "Hey Slater! It's your ex-wife on two!". This is actor Mike Muscat, who also played Moshier in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, one of the Cyberdyne Security officers on the phone who calls the police to say "I think it's that guy from the mall. Him and the woman". Coincidentally Muscat was also Edward Furlong's acting coach.
- Sylvester Stallone as the Terminator on a poster promoting Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This appears to be a playful jab at Schwarzenegger's close rivalry with Stallone.
- Model/actress Angie Everhart as a video store clerk
- During the premiere of Jack Slater IV in the real world, a number of celebrities appear as themselves. These include Schwarzenegger's then-wife Maria Shriver, Little Richard, Entertainment Tonight host Leeza Gibbons, James Belushi (who starred with Schwarzenegger in Red Heat), Damon Wayans, Chevy Chase, Nicolas Cage at the counter when Jack asks where he is sitting, Timothy Dalton (James Bond at that time) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who worked with John McTiernan on the film Predator as the original Predator before dropping out)
- As Jack and Danny enter the movie theater to find Arnold Schwarzenegger, MC Hammer asks Slater about a deal to do the Jack Slater V soundtrack.
- Wilson Phillips appears singing during the funeral scene.
- Ian McKellen as Death, who emerges from Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal
- Danny DeVito (uncredited) as the voice of Whiskers
- This is the first film to feature the 1993 Columbia Pictures logo (though the 1981 logo makes an in-film cameo as a distributor of one of Jack Slater films).