Commando (1985)

4 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Commando” is an action flick that goes by every action cliché in the book—one-liners, explosions, chases, camouflage (that really doesn’t cover much), kidnapped children, and the Austrian muscleman himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. This film does everything you can think of for an action picture and more. It’s silly…but it’s also a ton of fun. It’s an explosion-filled, shoot-em-up tale that is the key picture for a good time. It’s easy to laugh at all of the clichés, but I personally embraced them.

Schwarzenegger plays Col. John Matrix, a retired commando, who lives in the mountains with her eight-year-old daughter. They live a sweet life (maybe too sweet; we get an opening-credit montage of them doing things like eating ice cream, going fishing, and feeding a deer in the woods) until a group of thugs working for a deposed Latin American dictator (Dan Hedaya) kidnap the daughter. They want Matrix to kill the president of Val Verde or they’ll kill him and the girl. So Matrix escapes the thug holding him and sets out on a vengeful quest to get his daughter back.

His companion on the quest is a sexy flight attendant named Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong). She assists Matrix in a series of strange and funny action sequences. Yes, there is humor involved, particularly involving Matrix’s hunt for a thug named Sully (David Patrick Kelly) in a mall. Whether or not this was intended to be humorous, I laughed and had a good time.

OK, that’s probably a harsh statement because I’m sure a lot of the comedy is intentional. I know the wisecracks are in high class. My favorite is, “You’re a funny guy, Sully. I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.” Said in deadpan by Schwarzenegger is just fabulous.

But when all is said and done, this is an action picture. Matrix does all sorts of things to get where he needs to go. He pushes a truck (with himself inside it) down a mountain even though his brakes have been cut just so he can catch up with the bad guys. He jumps from an airplane into a lake. He fights a dozen mall cops who misunderstand this giant beefcake. Even the likable Cindy has her moment with a bazooka. It all leads to a noisy, explosive climax at an island full of bad guys with guns and it features the number-one cliché in an action climax: when the bad guys shoot at the good guy, they miss while the good guy never misses. Do you even wonder if he’s even aiming? And of course, he has to take on the main villain one-on-one. And this film doesn’t have one (the Dan Hedaya character), but two—the other villain is someone who used to work in the same field as Matrix.

“Commando” is a silly action film through and through and it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rae Dawn Chong were having a great time filming it. It’s explosive, violent, silly, stupid…and just a ton of fun.

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