Commando (1985)

Commando (1985), directed by Mark L. Lester, written by Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman and Steven D. de Souza, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alyssa Milano, Rae Dawn Chong, Vernon Wells 

The 80's was filled with terrible punk seasoned fashion and pop music, but it also was an era where action movies were at their best. Or their worst, depending on whom you ask. It was an era, that was filled with action movies like Conan The Barbarian, Robocop,  the Predator and Terminator. And then there's Commando. There's very little about Commando I don't like. Sure, it's silly and over the top. It has a story thin as a paper, but man, it's 80's cheesy action at its best.

John Matrix (Schwarzenegger) is living a peaceful life with his daughter Jenny (Milano) at an idyllic mountain retreat when his old life comes knocking. John is a former special ops soldier, who has been out of the game for years, taking care of his daughter, but now someone is gunning down his old teammates.  Kirby, John's former commanding officer, comes to tell him the bad news and leaves a couple of soldiers to protect them, then the shit hits the fan, leading the bad guys to kidnap Jenny.

There's a deal to be made: the bad guys want John to kill the president of Val Verde, as Varius (Dan Hedaya) wants to become a president at presidents place. And killing the former off is the best way to achieve that. One of the baddies also is John's former teammate, Bennett (Wells), who's looking for a revenge against the man, who kicked him out of the special forces. If MAtrix agrees to kill the current president, Varius and Bennett promise to let his daughter go.


Matrix is escorted to the aeroplane that's supposed to take him to Val Verde, but he knows that Jenny is dead as soon as he has dispatched the president. It doesn't take him long to escape his escort and with the help of a flight attendant Cindy (Chong), he starts to mow his way through his enemies in order to get his daughter back.

I think Commando might be the only really noteworthy movie its director Mark Lester has done. Sure, he has a relatively big filmography as a director as well as a producer, but at a glance, his stuff seems to be leaning towards genuine B-scale. Not that Commando isn't a B-movie itself, but it has something many other B-movies don't: Schwarzenegger.

Just liked you'd imagine, Schwarzenegger goes through the movie seriously but hamming it up a bit, throwing a one-liner after an another, while he's killing the baddies. Not with all baddies, mind you, as he does shoot a quite a few of pawns of Varius', but all the villains, who have gotten face time, do get a quip thrown after them when Arnold finally dispatches them.

Commando is one of those great, comfy action movies from the 1980's when things weren't so afraid to be silly. Being silly didn't mean, the movie makers weren't serious, but they also knew, that people wanted to be entertained. They didn't always succeed, like something like Stallone's Cobra can testify with a gusto, but when they nailed it, something like Commando was the end result.

I'm not trying to claim, that Commando is among the greatest movies ever made, but that doesn't diminish its value one iota. Many movies have vanished in the mist of time, but something like Commando will be remembered for years to come. Not, because it was brilliantly written or directed, but because it's proudly what it is: a fun, brainless action flick, starring one of the most charismatic action stars ever. Combine that to the energetic direction of Lester and a solid soundtrack, you have yourself a winner.



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