Commando (1985) Review

Director: Mark L. Lester

Genre(s): Action

Runtime: 90 minutes (theatrical version), 92 minutes (director’s cut)

MPAA Rating: R

IMDb Page

I hesitate to call Commando, one of the all-time great “comfort films,” a so-bad-it’s-good picture, because it seems like the filmmakers and whatnot are somewhat in on the joke. The story is about former special forces member John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) coming out of retirement after his daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano), is kidnapped by a group of mercenaries who want Matrix to reinstall Arius (Dan Hedaya) as dictator of the fictional Latin American country of Val Verde.

This movie is rip-snortin’ fun, playing out like a live-action cartoon, as John Matrix performs absurd feats of heroism and eliminates countless faceless baddies. Matrix has a female companion here, in the form of Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), but, fortunately for the audience, it’s not exactly a romantic relationship. The entire thing’s pure camp, with the highly memorable villain, Bennett (Vernon Wells), hamming it up to an unsafe degree. Actually, all of the characters are terrific, especially the wonderful henchmen, including Sully (David Patrick Kelly), Cooke (Bill Duke), Diaz (Gary Carlos Cervantes), and Henriques (Charles Meshack). You just want to learn more about every person that inhabits the Commando universe.

This hysterically funny cult classic is also a veritable one-liner machine, featuring some of the best dialogue in action movie history. James Horner provides the rockin’ musical score, which keeps things moving along smoothly, and no review of Commando would be complete without at least mentioning the ludicrous song “We Fight for Love” by The Power Station that plays over the end credits. The whole thing is fast-paced and expertly made for maximum impact.

The action scenes here are top-drawer, each one carefully building up to the high-octane climax. I believe I temporarily go insane from the adrenaline rush this sequence gives me every time I watch it. Schwarzenegger’s character is just cycling through weapons like he’s in some sort of video game. The montage of Matrix suiting up prior to the finale is also incredible.

One of the most pure action pictures ever released, Commando is action film nirvana (make sure you watch the director’s cut). It instantly puts a grin on my face. That being said, lots of people refer to this flick as a “guilty pleasure.” This is wrong. Why should I feel guilty about loving this movie? If you enjoy a motion picture, fully embrace it and don’t worry about feeling ashamed.

My rating is 10 outta 10.

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