- Movie Rating -

Commando (1985)

| October 18, 1985

If anyone wanted to sell Arnold Schwarzenegger as a product, they could not have done better than with Commando, a movie that both exploits and glorifies everything that makes Arnold appealing.  The people in charge of Arnold’s movie career (which is mostly led by Arnold himself) know how to package and sell him.  He has a limited personality, an endless supply of testosterone and muscles that remind us of the might oak.  Moving outside of his limitations is a bad idea.

That, in a nutshell, is what makes Commando work.  The movie gives him a lot of near-superhuman strength, puts him through a paper-thin plot and occasionally allows him enough dialogue to restate the plot or toss off a clever one-liner.  Every Arnold movie has one gem and for this movie it takes place when he casually snaps the neck of a bad guy on a plane, then hides the body with a blanket and a hat.  Afterwards he asks the stewardess not to disturb the man, “He’s dead tired.”  Coming from anyone else, this line would be a clunker, but from Arnold it’s pitch-perfect.

The plot is thin but effective.  He plays John Matrix, a former member of a crack military unit who has retired to the mountains with this daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano).  His old commander drops by to inform him that several men from his old unit have recently been killed by an unknown assailant.  Almost as soon as the commander leaves, several bad guys infiltrate Matrix’s home, kidnap he and Jenny.  They are taken before a former South American dictator named Arius (Dan Hedaya) who informs him that he will hold on to Jenny until Matrix goes to South America and assassinates the sitting president.  The name of the country that he is going to strangely muted as Arius says the name so quietly that we can’t understand him.

Matrix is escorted to a plane where we get that neck snapping thing.  Then he leaps out of the plane and the chase is on.  Literally the next 90 minutes are Arnold murdering one bad guy after another until he finds out where Arius is hold Jenny.  The beauty of this movie is the way in which it uses Arnold’s massive physique to pull off a lot of violent stunts.  He throws men around in this movie like they were bean bag chairs.  And, of course, it all leads up to a Rambo-style bloodbath at Arius’ compound where he is accosted by maybe 200 guys with machine guns but never gets a scratch.

I found the movie to be a lot of fun.  It uses Arnold to full effect, allowing him to be involved in the action and just enough dialogue to remain a human being.  The movie is more of a comic book than something like The Terminator with a lot of big action set pieces that never take themselves too seriously.  That’s good I suppose.  This movie is kind of awesome in a dumbbell sort of way.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Action