Directed by: Mark L. Lester
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vernon G. Wells, Rae Dawn Chong, Alyssa Milano, Bill Duke, David Patrick Kelly, and Dan Hedaya
When the awesomely-named John Matrix (Arnie) retires from a life of globe-trotting Special Ops commando work, all he wants to do is spend time with his beloved daughter Jenny (Milano). Instead of feeding the local deer and eating unknown sandwiches, Matrix’s past comes back to haunt him: the diabolical Arius (Hedaya) uses a team of mercenaries, including Matrix’s former associate, now evil, Bennett (Wells), as well as Sully (Kelly) and Cooke (Duke), among others, to force Matrix to depose a South American dictator so Arius can step in and make himself El Presidente. They’ve kidnapped Jenny and are forcing Matrix to do the job. Rather than submit to their demands, Matrix uses his considerable skills to turn the tables on the baddies and rescue his daughter. Along the way, he teams up with an unlikely partner, an innocent bystander to all the chaos named Cindy (Chong). John Matrix will prove himself to be the ultimate COMMANDO as he executes his ultimate mission: rescue Jenny! Will he do it? Well, you probably already know…
Perhaps the pinnacle of the 80’s action boom, the great and mighty Commando is everything an action movie should be…and more! It’s a completely entertaining, winning, engrossing, fun spectacle that features non-stop over the top action and hilarious one-liners from Schwarzenegger. Heck, this movie practically invented the “action movie one-liner” that we all take for granted today. However, it must be said the Arnie used two of them in The Terminator (1984) as well, but hey, there’s plenty to go around. Director Lester even reportedly counts this as his favorite of his own movies, which isn’t at all surprising. If I directed it, it would be my favorite too. (One supposes Hitman’s Run wouldn’t give Commando much of a run for the top position, but Lester also directed the excellent Showdown In Little Tokyo, so that must be a strong #2 in his eyes).
Commando is a vivid evocation of the 80’s rise of Arnie and the action movie in general. It was a great time in movies when if the filmmakers had to make a plot choice between either something logical, or something manly/muscular/action-oriented happening on screen, logic was chucked to the side because it’s far less important. Mr. Schwarzenegger remains charming as ever here, whether he’s reading Creem magazine and opining about Boy George, or shooting/blowing up/knifing/chopping/slicing/impaling people or getting into car chases or other death-defying stunts. James Horner’s score should also be singled out for mention, as it alternates between synth stabs during the action scenes, and the time-honored 80’s sax elsewhere. It’s really the perfect score and fits the movie well.
Kudos also go to the writers and director Lester for ensuring that this did not turn into an El Presidente Slog, as we call them, which it easily could have. Yet more props go to the excellent (and extensive) stunt performers on the film. As mentioned earlier, Schwarzenegger doesn’t have to carry the whole movie on his back like so many logs or phone booths. A top-notch cast is assembled around him to ensure quality all around. Someone should ask Alyssa Milano today what she thinks about Commando. There’s even a Rambo-style “Trautman” character that doesn’t get much screen time, perhaps because he’s not as important as all the Arnie action.
The thing is, if you DON’T like Commando, that might be a sign that you need psychological help. Symptoms of NLC (Not Liking Commando) should be listed in the DSM-V Manual of Mental Disorders. If you ever find yourself not liking this movie at any time, for any reason, please consult a medical professional. Commando rules!
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty