Ageing action heroes are suddenly in fashion. Harrison Ford (80) is back in the hat with a new Indiana Jones film. Sylvester Stallone (76) is starring as an ageing Mafia capo in Tulsa King, his first foray into television. And now we have Arnold Schwarzenegger (75) making his TV debut in Fubar (Netflix), as a CIA man who is on the point of retirement but called back into the field for one last job.
Fubar falls into the category of ‘not great, but a great deal of fun’. Like the aforementioned Ford and Stallone projects, it has its cake and eats it: lots of self-deprecating jokes about being older and out-of-touch (“No-one wants to lift heavy weights any more. Everyone wants to go biking with their digital friends,” Schwarzenegger says of Gen Z) but the old guy has still got the moves. In an entertaining opening sequence, he has smoked a cigar, driven a cool car, jumped onto a moving fire truck, stolen some diamonds from a vault and killed a bunch of baddies, all before you can say, “But that stunt double is clearly 30 years younger than Arnie.”
Actually, Schwarzenegger looks terrific for 75, and is the perfect choice for this. The plot is reminiscent of his Nineties film True Lies: his character, Luke Brunner, has been leading a double life and hiding his CIA work from his family. But when he’s sent to Guyana to rescue a compromised fellow agent, he discovers – spoiler alert – that the agent is none other than his daughter, Emma (Monica Barbaro, who played the female pilot in Top Gun: Maverick).
From this point, much of the comedy is of the dad-daughter variety. Luke had been under the impression that Emma was a sweet-natured, clean-living charity worker. When he finds her in Guyana, bare-knuckle boxing with paramilitaries, he is appalled: “You’ve been lying to me for the last decade. And you smoke!”
The show is least successful when it tries to get serious about Emma’s grudges against her dad – she’s angry that he wasn’t around enough during her childhood, blah blah blah. It can also be overly zany, in the form of a Q-like figure (Milan Carter) who guides operations and is somehow also part of the Brunner family. Schwarzenegger isn’t, shall we say, the most subtle of comedy performers. But he’s having a whale of a time and, if you’re a fan of action comedies, so will you.