Friday, June 14, 2013

Commando (1985)

When I was younger, I was much more into sci-fi and fantasy flicks, so I missed a lot of the big action movies of the 80s. I decided to remedy that, you know, to keep my 80s movie street cred solid. One of the action flicks that receives a lot of discussion is this fine film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. To some, it’s the ultimate Arnold movie; to others it’s a laughable mess. Either way, it’s got some of the best action one liners I’ve heard in a long time.

John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger), yes that’s his real name, just wants to spend time with his cute as a button daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). But alas, a black ops commando’s work is never done. John is pulled in for one more job, to find out who is killing off the other retired commandos from his old team.

Turns out the wicked Arius (Dan Hedaya) has contracted the scenery chewing, chain mail wearing Bennett (Vernon Wells) and his team to capture Jenny and force John Matrix to do his dirty work. John Matrix won’t stand for this, because his name is John Matrix. So he proceeds to hunt down and kill each of the bad guys with glorious pun after glorious pun. Along the way he pulls poor Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) into the whole mess. Prepare yourself for endless gunfire, Arnold swinging across a mall by a streamer, and of course the phrase “I’ll be back”. Nothing can stop this Commando.

Good Points:
  • Pure 80s action goodness
  • Pretty much moves non-stop once Jenny gets captured
  • Some pretty cool and exciting stunts in this movie
Bad Points:
  • Unapologetically 80s in style and reckless abandon
  • The puns will have some people groaning in agony
  • The music has been known to drive some viewers mad 

Um, so yeah, this is pretty much the perfect example of over the top action from the 1980s. I’m not at all surprised it came out the same year as Rambo II. What makes this movie so much fun is the hilariously bad puns Arnold says with each kill. I also love the opening credit montage featuring scenes of the happy family life of John and Jenny. The movie isn’t in on the joke, and yet that makes the whole thing much more entertaining. They don’t make action movies like this anymore; some might argue that’s a good thing. But I had a good time with this one.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 3
Sound: 3
Acting: 3
Script: 4
Music: 3
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. Trivia: 1985 is also the first known appearance in print of the colloquial term "going commando" (in the Chicago Tribune). While I doubt the coincidence is in any way related to this film, this is definitely unadorned and unashamed Arnold. He is at the top of his game here. His game is neither deep nor high on artistic merit, It is fun, though. Just don't expect King Lear.

    1. Completely agree, I had a great time with this movie. I wasn't expecting too much, but the film delivered solid entertainment and plenty of laughs (intentional and otherwise). The villainous performance by Wells as Bennett was one of the highlights. The man couldn't chew more scenery if he tried.