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Commando – Review

4 Oct

I consider 1980s action movies to really be a genre of their own. They really don’t make them like they used to in this case. Movies featuring the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and others were violent, gritty, and over the top. For this review, we’re going to travel back to 1985 for the movie Commando, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his earlier starring roles. By this point, the Austrian behemoth had already starred in Conan the BarbarianThe Terminator, and Red Sonja, but I feel like this is the movie that defined the kind of roles that Schwarzenegger would take for the rest of his career. Other than that, Commando is simply just a wild movie.

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Col. John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is an ex-Delta Force soldier who was forced to retire in order to protect him and his team from the many enemies they made over the years. When members of Matrix’s old team begin to get brutally murdered, Major General Jack Kirby (James Olsen) warns Matrix that he, along with his young daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano), are in trouble. Kirby is too late,however, and accidentally leads the assassins to Matrix’s secluded home. Jenny gets kidnapped and John learns that Arius (Dan Hedaya), a former South American president deposed by Matrix and his team, and Bennet (Vernon Wells), a violent former member of Matrix’s team, are behind the kidnapping and murders. Their demand for John: To take out the current president of Val Verde so Arius can regain the presidency or Jenny will die. While the terrorists believe they have the upper hand, they aren’t fully prepared for the one man war that’s about to be waged by the vengeful commando.

To start off with why Commando absolutely succeeds as an action movie is the fact that it has a body count of 109, with 102 of those being killed by Schwarzenegger. That means that in the 11 hours of movie time that Schwarzenegger’s character is doing stuff, he kills over a hundred people. That’s absolutely ridiculous, which is great because this movie knows that it’s being absolutely ridiculous. There’s no attempt of getting into anything deeper than what this movie actually is, which is a loud and entertaining action vehicle for Arnold. The movie pretty much sums up everything you need to know about its characters in the first few minutes and then the rest of the relatively short run time is spent filling the screen with non-stop action. I don’t really see how someone could be bored with this movie at all.

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Like I said, this knows it’s absolutely ridiculous, so it has plenty of humor to back up its nearly non-stop action. Schwarzenegger has dozens of cheesy one liners he says after he takes someone down, and he delivers them with deadpan perfection. Vernon Wells also has plenty of opportunities to make us all laugh with his over the top villainy an out of this world chain mail shirt and leather pants. Listen, because I’m about to get really real. To me, this is all great and funny, but you have to be in the mood for it. Trying to seriously critique this movie is kind of hard because it’s just something to be taken lightly and to have fun with. While I say this in defense of Commando, there is something in this movie that I absolutely hate.

While this is a one man action show starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, he does have a side kick. Unfortunately, this particular side kick would get along just fine with Jar Jar Binks. Rae Dawn Chong’s character, Cindy, is one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. It’s fine that the writers tried to put in a funny side kick to work against the serious nature that the movie might have had otherwise, but everything was going just fine without her. Her shrieking voice and completely incompetent behavior was completely out of place and overused.

Can you really critique Commando like you would Citizen KaneGone With the Wind, or Lawrence of Arabia? No, certainly not. I feel like I have to judge Commando based on what it is. It’s a crazy action film that showcased how much of a badass Arnold Schwarzenegger was, and in that regard it succeeds wonderfully. Once the action starts, it hardly ever lets up. The only problem I have is one awful character whose absence would make the movie a whole lot better. Still, if you’re looking for a ridiculously ludicrous movie to watch, this one will provide lots of fun.

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