Features and Columns · Movies

The Time James Cameron Blew Up a Real Bridge for ‘True Lies’

Nobody does it better (than James Cameron)
True Lies Bridge Stunt
By  · Published on October 26th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at how director James Cameron shot the explosive bridge stunt in the movie True Lies.


Lest the intricate plot details of James Cameron‘s espionage action-comedy have faded from your memory, the third act of True Lies sees heroes and villains alike on the Seven Mile Bridge, a structure that connects various sections of the Florida Keys. The baddie Aziz (Art Malik) is zipping away with a nuclear warhead and Harry’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis). Luckily Harry has two Marine Harrier Jump Jets at his disposal to stop Aziz in his tracks … by blowing up the bridge.

Knowing Cameron, whose reputation for big practical spectacle proceeds him, the modern viewer would be forgiven for running the tape back to try and figure out how they did it. Luckily, the below video essay exists to untangle the sneaky CGI imagery from the miniatures from the real (!) Harrier Jets.

While it can often feel that Cameron’s approach to big-budget action spectacle is a relic of a bygone era (especially given his own pivot into digital sets), if you’ve been paying close attention to movies lately, you’ll know that’s just not true. While the landscape of how filmmakers approach big set pieces definitely skews towards the digital, the old practical ways are still kicking. Not only that, but as practical stunt-heavy films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Top Gun: Maverick prove, audiences know and appreciate the value of watching physical effects on-screen and are happy to prove it with their wallets.

Watch “How to Blow Up a Real Bridge In-Camera | True Action”:


Who made this?

This video essay on how James Cameron and company really blew up the bridge in that one sequence from True Lies is by Paul E.T., an Australian YouTuber whose been at it since 2017. You can follow Paul E.T. on Twitter here. And you can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).