Review: Commando

July 22, 2012

Arnold Schwarzenegger is like the Austrian bodybuilder version of Michael Jackson. Both insanely popular thanks to their respective talents, both regular targets of jokes about their public and private image. And in both cases, it really did come from a place of love. If it were some investment banker accused of diddling kids, there wouldn’t have been any jokes. If it were just some guy from Austria running for the Governor of California, no one would have batted an eye.

But because it was the King of Pop, because it was the Terminator, everyone sat up an paid attention. Even with the jokes being at their expense, it was also a celebration of them, and that’s really what this month is about: celebrating all the cheesy things about action stars that made us love them. And I can think of no better place to start than with one of Arnold’s first big hits, Commando.

We start off with a double shot of action, in the form of hired murders and cliches. First, it’s two killers disguised as sanitation workers, shooting up a former Delta Force operative. Another is killed after being run down by a Cadillac through a dealership window. And then a fishing boat is blown up. We then cut to the man himself carrying a giant-fuck-off-log down to his cabin in the forest.

As he chops the wood for the fire, his daughter sneaks up behind him, and is swiftly picked up and tickled. This is a thing that actually happens. His daughter is subsequently kidnapped by the same people killing all the other Delta Force operatives, revealing that they want Matrix to perform an assassination for a South American dictator who the Delta Force unit had previously toppled.

Three problems: One, Matrix is a retired Delta Force operative, which makes him a member of an organization in a four-way tie for baddest motherfuckers in the United States military. Two, the man they’re trying to get him to assassinate for has already lost once due to Matrix (among others) interference. Three, John Matrix (if we’re taking the Last Action Hero, all-characters-look-like-their-stars route) is a strong, bodybuilding sonuvabitch, and likely the last person anyone would want to mess with.

Sure enough, Matrix goes on the warpath, taking down all of the dictator’s operatives he comes in contact with, and with the help of a confused flight attendant, he makes his way to the dictator’s island hideout. He proceeds to fight his way through an army of soldiers in one of the greatest displays of Stormtrooper Firing Syndrome I’ve ever seen. He convinces the man guarding his daughter (also his subordinate during their Delta Force days, and the man who originally captured him) to fight him with a knife instead of a gun. He does so because he’s a moron, but he’s soon impaled on a steam pipe.

Matrix rescues his daughter, and the US Military shows up just in time to be completely useless. Matrix boards the seaplane with his daughter and the flight attendant, and flies off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

It’s not good, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. The plot’s pretty basic (although I thought the Delta Force background was a nice touch), the acting is capable if a little stiff sometimes, the writing is…well, it wouldn’t be an 80s action movie without bad puns. The best way I can describe it is like a big guy who’s maybe not so bright, but still a lot of fun to be around: Good for most crowds, but you wouldn’t want them showing up at a wine tasting or something fancy like that.


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