* AcceptableEthnicTargets: Just about every Arab villain is depicted as a bumbling, cowardly, cartoonishly evil character, who's sole purpose is to die in some horrific over the top fashion. Suffice it to say, Creator/JamesCameron was ''not'' sympathetic to their cause. The film did receive some criticism for portraying the terrorists as "stereotypically" Muslim. This was 7 years before 9/11. See HarsherInHindsight.
* AcceptableTargets: The conversation that takes place between Harry and Helen in the quote at the top of the main page.
* BestKnownForTheFanservice: One of the film's most famous moments is when Jamie Lee Curtis performs a shadowy striptease for her husband. The CatFight in the backseat between her and Tia Carrere is very memorable too.
* BrokenBase: The famous sequence of Harry forcing Helen to perform a striptease for who she thinks is a complete stranger. Some have criticised the scene for being creepy and misogynistic - not helped by the fact that James Cameron was going through a divorce at the time, leading to some speculation over whether the scene was CatharsisFactor for him. Others are more accepting of it, including Jamie Lee Curtis herself; she says she views the scene as Helen taking control and being sexy in her own right - pointing out that Helen could have left and walked out if she wanted to, which she did when Harry actually made advances on her.
* CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming:
** The shot of Harry carrying his daughter to the car after the ordeal is over, simultaneously caring for her and protecting both of their identities.
** The family sitting around the table playing, a stark contrast to the strained dinners we've seen them share before.
* EndingFatigue: We have the awesome chase scene on the Florida Keys Highway with the amazing last second save of Helen, they kiss, roll cred.....Wait, the bad guys have somehow kidnapped the daughter and we have an awesome final battle, roll cred......Wait, it's a year later and we have a little epilogue, roll cred......wait Helen's now a spy and they're at an awesome party like the one at the beginning roll cred......Wait, it's Creator/BillPaxton! Let's make fun of him again. The Tango!.........Roll Credits, whew!
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Tom Arnold is usually much-maligned for his personality and film choices, but received a lot of praise from critics and audiences for his scene-stealing performance.
* EvilIsSexy: Juno Skinner - a glamorous FemmeFatale who wears tight dresses and flips her beautiful RapunzelHair around.
* FoeYay: Harry Tasker and Juno Skinner. While in his spy persona, he seduces her with a very sexual tango while dodging detection from the bad guys, before either of them knew who the other really was. When they both learn of each other's identities, there is an amount of one-sided FoeYay from Juno towards Harry, including alleging that they had a affair and kissing him in front of his wife Helen to hurt her.
* HarsherInHindsight:
** The whole plotline of fanatical jihadists attacking America. Especially the nuclear weapons part, given the post-9/11 fears about dirty bombs and the like. What's worse is that a sequel was planned and the 9/11 attacks and post-9/11 fear of terrorism pretty much killed any chance of that (though there are faint rumors that the movie will be turned into a TV show).
** Dedicating the entire second act to Arnold suspecting his wife is cheating on him, given what he did to Maria Shriver. He was apparently asked about watching Jamie Lee Curtis striptease, to which he responded "[[BlatantLies Honey, I hated every hour of it]]".
** The movie also plays the idea of a secret agent using the spying tools of the US Government to spy on an unfaithful spouse for laughs. In 2013, Edward Snowden's revelations included evidence that some NSA agents had done exactly that.
** There's a conversation where the Crimson Jihad boss is said to break off his former group to form [[RenegadeSplinterFaction a newer, more vicious terrorist organization]]. It was played as a joke then, but then come 2014, when al-Qaeda's franchise in Iraq and Syria broke off its parent organization and set out to out-jihad it.
* HilariousInHindsight:
** [[spoiler:Before Harry kills Salim by firing a missile at Salim's reinforcements,]] he tells a frightened Salim, "You're fired." Indeed, we might be seeing Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger saying that phrase more often once he replaces Creator/DonaldTrump in ''Series/TheApprentice''.
** Eliza Dushku gets kidnapped in the third act. This is positively hilarious as of her most famous role as [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Faith the vampire slayer]]. Not to mention that she got typecast as {{Action Girl}}s.
** Jamie Lee Curtis is implied to have TakenALevelInBadass at the end. Not too long later she would put these skills to good use in ''Film/HalloweenH20TwentyYearsLater''.
* NightmareFuel: Arnold's [[TranquilFury silent rage]] at what he thinks is his wife's lover is pretty darn intimidating.
* NintendoHard: The Super Nintendo game, which is notoriously difficult.
* RetroactiveRecognition: There's a reason [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Faith]] and [[{{Series/Dollhouse}} Echo]] are such badass {{Action Girl}}s: they're Ahnold's daughter. Anyone wanting to know what a younger Faith might be like...Dana nails it cold.
* SignatureScene: Harry rescuing Helen by helicopter before the limo she's inside plummets off the bridge.
* VisualEffectsOfAwesome:
** The fight at the Florida Keys and the climactic battle, achieved using a life-sized mockup of the Harrier jet mounted on a gimbal rig.
** It helps that this was the film that Creator/DigitalDomain first did.
** During some parts of the Florida Keys battle, actual Harrier jets (piloted by United States Marine Corps aviators) were used. The US Government supplied three Marine Harriers and their pilots for a fee of $100,736 ($2,410 per hour).
* WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids: The video game. Normally bad guys fall down in a pool of blood but they (and Harry) can be blown apart, fly back with a shotgun, burnt alive, suicide bombers leave their bloodied ribcage on death and being hit by a train results in a bloody smear.

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