Eraser is a 1996 American action film directed by Chuck Russell, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan and Vanessa L. Williams. The film was released in the United States on June 21, 1996. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Sound Effects Editing in 1996
John Kruger is a U.S. Marshal working for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC) specializing in "erasing" high-profile witnesses, faking their deaths to keep them safe from those who may wish to silence them. John is assigned by his boss, Chief Arthur Beller, to protect Lee Cullen, a senior executive for the defense contractor Cyrez Corporation. Lee informed the FBI that her employer plans to sell a top secret electronic pulse rifle on the black market.
To procure evidence, Lee copies critical data from the Cyrez mainframe onto two discs: one for the FBI, and the other as her own security. However, William Donahue, the corrupt executive of Cyrez facilitating the arms sale, catches wind of Lee accessing the mainframe and orders her into his office. After confiscating Lee's hidden camera and threatening her with a pistol, Donahue commits suicide in front of her. Disgruntled with the FBI because of failure to guarantee her safety, she delivers the evidence but refuses to submit herself to WITSEC, despite John's advice. The FBI's disc is intercepted by a mole working for Undersecretary of Defense Daniel Harper, another key player in the conspiracy.
That night, Lee's house is attacked by armed gunman led by a man with an EM rifle. John rescues Lee and takes her to New York City to hide her, keeping her location secret even from WITSEC. However, John soon learns from his mentor, fellow Marshal Robert DeGuerin, that several witnesses have been murdered because a mole in WITSEC is leaking information and they must relocate their witnesses. They raid a remote cabin and kill the mercenaries holding DeGuerin's witness hostage but DeGuerin discreetly kills her during the raid, revealing he is the mole and a facilitator of the arms sale. By the time John realizes DeGuerin is the mole, DeGuerin has already traced Lee to NYC and has framed John as the mole to force him to give up Lee's location. John escapes and rescues Lee from DeGuerin's gunmen in the nick of time. With Lee and John in the wind, DeGuerin has them both branded fugitives, cutting off any escape out of the city.
John, Lee, and Johnny Casteleone, a mob witness whose life John saved in the beginning of the film, penetrate Cyrez's office to read Lee's security-encoded copy. The disk reveals that at the Baltimore docks, they plan to sell 1000 units of EM rifles to Russian mobster Sergei Ivanovich Petrofsky, which threatens to usher in a dangerous new era of global terrorism. Cyrez operatives pinpoint their whereabouts and DeGuerin kidnaps Lee and has her brought to the docks where a railgun shipment is being loaded onto a Russian freighter. With the aid of Johnny, his cousin Tony Two-Toes and two associates, John stops the shipment by killing all of DeGuerin's and Petrofsky's henchmen, including Petrofsky. In a final struggle atop a shipping container, DeGuerin holds Lee hostage but John manages to free her and destroy the lock on the container crane, dropping DeGuerin and the container to the ground. John rescues the critically wounded DeGuerin and leaves him for Chief Beller and the authorities, clearing his and Lee's name in the process.
After a hearing for DeGuerin and his fellow conspirators a few weeks later, and with the implication that under civil law jurisdiction a conviction and sentence of the culprits will not be possible, John publicly fakes his and Lee's death. As the conspirators debate whether or not to start a new operation, their limo pulls onto a train track and the driver, Johnny Casteleone, locks the doors and exits the vehicle. John taunts DeGuerin with a final message: "You've just been erased" as a train crashes into the limo, "erasing" the conspirators in a fiery explosion.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as US Marshal John "The Eraser" Kruger
- James Caan as US Marshal Robert DeGuerin
- Vanessa L. Williams as Lee Cullen
- James Coburn as WITSEC Chief Arthur Beller
- Robert Pastorelli as Johnny Casteleone
- James Cromwell as William Donohue
- Danny Nucci as WITSEC Deputy Monroe
- Andy Romano as Daniel Harper
- Joe Viterelli as Tony Two-Toes
- Olek Krupa as Sergei Ivanovich Petrovsky
- Gerry Becker as Morehart
- Nick Chinlund as Agent Calderon
- Michael Papajohn as Agent Schiff
- K. Todd Freeman as Agent Dutton
- Mark Rolston as J. Scar
- John Slattery as Agent Corman
- Robert Miranda as Frediano
- Roma Maffia as Claire Isaacs
- Tony Longo as Little Mike
- John Snyder as Sal
- Jon Cryer as Bartender #2
- Skipp Sudduth as Watch Commander
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as one of Petrofsky's guards
- Denis Forest as Cyrez's system administrator
- Patrick Kilpatrick as James Haggerty
Development and castingEdit
Director Chuck Russell and star Arnold Schwarzenegger were originally working on another project together when Eraser was brought to their attention. Russell was excited about the possibilities the film could bring between actor and the character: "I see Arnold the way a lot of people do -- as a mythic, bigger-than-life character -- and that's who Kruger is. The character and the scenario are based firmly in reality, but I liked the mythic proportions of this man with a strong sense of duty, a strong sense of honor, who will literally do anything to protect a noble witness. I was excited about doing a film that had heroic proportions." Producer Arnold Kopelson was also keen to cast Schwarzenegger in the role of "The Eraser", having talked with the actor about working on projects before. Vanessa Williams would be cast as the lead female character, Lee Cullen, the key witness Eraser must protect. Williams came to the attention of the Kopelsons when Maria Shriver, the wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, suggested her for the role. To play the character of DeGuerin (Kruger's mentor and the main sociopathic antagonist), the filmmakers wanted an actor who could "convey intelligence, skill and magnetism - a more mature version of the Kruger character", they would cast James Caan in this role. Before Caan was officially cast, Jonathan Pryce was also considered for the role. The screenplay was initially the work of Tony Puryear, who had a background in advertising and rap videos. Writers Walon Green and Michael S. Chernuchin had previously worked together on the television drama Law & Order.
The "rail-gun" featured in the film as a key plot device, Schwarzenegger talks on the subject: "We paid a lot of attention to making the audience feel the danger of this weapon, that anyone can be outside of your house, looking right through the walls. It really leaves you nowhere to hide," he explains. "But, on top of that, we show the sophistication of the weapon in a lot of fun ways: you not only see through a building, you see a person's skeleton and even their heart beating inside. There are some great visual effects there."
Eraser began principal photography in New York City, locations would include The Harlem Rail Yard in the South Bronx, Central Park's Sheep Meadow and Chinatown. Following shooting in New York production moved to Washington D.C. For the action sequence which takes place in the Reptile House of New York City Zoo, interiors were built on the soundstages of the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
One of the most demanding action sequences in the film featured the character of Kruger forced to flee from a jet speeding through the skies at 250 miles per hour. Speaking about this scene, director Russell says: "These things are jigsaw puzzle pieces not only within shooting sequence but within each shot. You had elements that were live action, elements that were miniature, sometimes computer-generated, and they're all married together in the final processing." Some of the physical stunts were performed by Schwarzenegger himself. For the "aerial" stunt Arnold was required to fall 65 feet in vertical descent and perform a back flip in mid-flight. The shot took seven takes to get right. In the final film, Kruger appears to drop along the length of the fuselage and past the flaming engine of the Jet thanks to inventive camera angles and special effects.
The original name of the Cyrez corporations was "Cyrex". However, Cyrix, a microprocessor corporation and rival of Intel, protested. The name was then changed digitally in any scenes where the name appeared in a fairly costly process for the time, and dialogue redubbed. Some instances of the "Cyrex" logo are still visible in the finished film.
Eraser had an opening weekend of $24.5 million in the US during the summer season of 1996. The final US gross was $101.2 million and final worldwide gross was $242.3 million.
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