The Pitch: Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a tough, grizzled secret agent who hops around the globe, taking down bad guys and saving the world — all while his suburban family is none the wiser. Yes, that’s the plot of True Lies, but it’s also the plot of Netflix’s FUBAR, Arnold’s first time as the lead of a television show (at 75!). Here, he plays the 65-year-old (sure) Luke Brunner, whose civilian cover is running a boutique gym equipment store with his ex-wife Tally (Fabiana Udenio) when he’s not swanning off to punch more terrorists in the face.
But his own double life gets a huge reality check when, on his latest mission to stop a South American drug lord (Gabriel Luna), he discovers that his estranged twentysomething daughter Emma (Top Gun: Maverick’s Monica Barbaro) is also on that mission, and it turns out she’s been a CIA agent this whole time too! The shock!
With their respective covers blown, they’re forced to finally work together and hash out their professional and personal issues — all while figuring out how to keep their superspy lives a secret from their loved ones.
Leverage-ing Arnold’s Star Power: There’s something innately charming, and yet deeply cynical, about the concept of ol’ Arnie coming back to TV for a retread of the kind of work he made his nut on in the ’80s and ’90s. In his post-Governatorial career, Schwarzenegger has tried mightily to return to the movie-star fold (Terminator: Dark Fate, the Expendables series) and stretch his legs as a dramatic actor (Maggie). But most recently, he’s leaned into the kind of cheeky meta-humor nature of his own casting. In this respect, FUBAR feels not unlike the execrable Taran Killam vehicle Killing Gunther — a milquetoast comedy whose entire premise hinges on audiences saying, “Hey, that’s Arnold! Doing Arnold stuff! I remember that!”
But the “True Lies, but what if a father and daughter are both the spy?” premise holds some promise, and to be fair the show’s most effective moments come when Schwarzenegger and Barbaro get to explore this in depth. At its heart, FUBAR is a show about a distant father realizing his daughter’s going down the same flawed path he is, and trying to keep her from making the same mistakes. That stuff’s fairly interesting, and the pair have some solid chemistry when they get to sit down and talk about how the allure of their exciting secret lives can pull them away from the people they love the most.
To be fair to the former Mr. Universe, he’s giving it as much as he can at his advanced age. His Luke Brunner is hardly the beefy superman of Commando and Predator; the show’s modest budget doesn’t hide the seams between Arnold and his army of stunt doubles very aptly. But let’s see you dive behind crates while shooting pistols when you hit your golden years!