Surgeon General Warning – Common side effects of cheesy action movies include brain cramps from using it too much, lack of oxygen from laughing so hard, and using the phrase “Holy Shit” more often than usual
Commando is one of my favorite guilty pleasure films. It has all the right ingredients for an over the top action movie including corny dialogue, ridiculous action, and the main character that just kicks tons and tons of ass. You should know what you’re signing up for with a movie called Commando starring Arnold Fucking Schwarzenegger.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is in his prime here as John Matrix, a widowed, seasoned commando who is just trying to live a quiet life raising his daughter Jenny, played by Alyssa Milano. However, trope number #120 of action movies occurs when his superior Major General Kirby, making a grand entrance via CHOPPAH, informs Mr. Matrix that his old unit has been killed and that he may be next. Soon he finds out that one of his old squad members that was thought dead is out for revenge and his name is Bennett, played by Vernon Wells. Bennett was kicked out and he wants Matrix to suffer or else his daughter gets a knife to the throat. In order to save his daughter, he must travel to the country of Velveeta, I mean Val Verde and execute the president of Val Verde. Rewatching this movie for the first time in many years, I didn’t recall the disturbing dialog by the henchmen Bennett is associated with, led by Arius, played by Dan Heyada. One line by the scumbag Sully was about being with his daughter and another line involved a henchman saying cutting little girls throats is like cutting hot butter. Pretty nasty stuff to do to a little girl and that gives you more reason to root for Arnold to murder these people.
You can’t have an action movie without an attractive lead actress and Rae Dawn Chong is shoehorned into this situation by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She plays Cindy, who works in the airline industry and is training to be a pilot but she encounters the slimy Sully who’s trying to get some tail. Matrix uses Cindy to track down Sully so he can find his daughter and this leads to an amazing mall sequence. Cindy isn’t on Matrix’s side at first but she believes his story and tries to help him out, which includes potentially murdering him by shooting a rocket launcher to break him out of a police car. Yep, this is the movie you are getting and you’re either on board or bailed long ago.
Three other factors I’d like to point out in this movie are the score, the stunts, and the special effects. I didn’t know that famous composer, the late great James Horner, did the score for this film and it’s a memorable score because even though it’s your typical action movie score, Horner’s score involves steel drums which gives it a tropical feel and it’s great. It’s definitely one of my favorite action movie scores for sure. The score also includes a staple in any 80’s/90’s action film, a generic 80’s rock song that you’ll find yourself nodding your head to. The stunts are awesome from Schwarzenegger getting hit by a car to the ridiculous rooftop falls and grenade jumps. Finally, the special effects are nearing Paul Verhoven level with people being riddled with bullets to Matrix chopping off a man’s arm and also slicing the top of a human being’s head off via tossing a saw blade like a Frisbee.
Commando was written by Steven E. de Souza, who also wrote The Running Man, Die Hard, and another guilty pleasure of mine Hudson Hawk. The dialogue was as cheesy and awesome as expected with classic one-liners that fill up an Arnold soundboard. This gem was also directed by Mark L. Lester, whose work I am unfamiliar with for the most part outside of this film. He did a fine job outside of someone scene that is just absurd and an overarching issue with the film. The scene is the end of a chase sequence with Matrix, Cindy, and Sully. Matrix rips out the passenger car seat of Cindy’s car in order to chase Sully and he can stay low in case Sully catches the wind. The chase ensues, leads to the mall sequence, and the chase concludes with Matrix running Sully up a wall and crashing his car. However, Matrix ends up crashing into a tree. Now Cindy is still a passenger in the car but doesn’t have a car seat. They crash into this tree and everyone is fine?!?! Wut? I’m all for over the top but she didn’t get a ding on that thing. Now, of course, this is the same woman who, again, SHOT A ROCKET LAUNCHER AT MATRIX TRYING TO RESCUE HIM, and I wasn’t bothered by that so I may have something intellectually wrong. The overarching issue with the film is that people are hard of hearing. In this world, we live in only a select few people have good hearing, and that’s all of our main characters. Outside of that, everyone’s hearing may be poor or everyone is just aloof. Maybe there was some attack prior to this move that caused this. You’re probably asking what the hell am I talking about well I’ll tell you, fine reader. From the get-go, the henchmen taking out Matrix team use guns in broad daylight executing one man, drive a new car out of a dealership running over another man and blowing up a boat. I heard no screams, no calling the police, nothing. Then in another scene, Matrix is forced onto a plane to Velvetta, shoot I already made that joke, and sits next to the henchman named Henriques. Now in doing so, he ends up elbowing Henriques in the face causing an audible sound and then SNAPPING HIS NECK. Anyone? Bueller? They even show the people up front acting like nothing happened. Finally in another scene, and this is absolutely preposterous, we go to a hotel room scene involving Matrix and Cooke trying to shoot each other in close vicinity. Then they end up breaking through into another room where two lovebirds porking. You mean to tell me they did not hear the several gunshots or was the moaning so loud? Thank God all of these individuals were not in a horror movie or their blood would be splattered by Jason or Michael Myers in no time at all.
Commando is a damn good time and is never dull. I could rewatch this film anytime and still fall in love with it. It doesn’t take itself seriously and relishes in it. For any film fan that can shut their brain off for 90 minutes, I think you’ll enjoy one of the best action movies of all time, COMMANDO!
Commando gets a 7.9/10