Why did we have a war going on in Afghanistan in the first place? One simple phone call to the Governor’s office in “Kellyfornia” and that would have been all. Stupid Americans.
Retired, Elite Commando John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives a small, quiet, and uneventful life with his daughter (Alyssa Milano). He has that for some time, that is, until a herd of baddies show up at his door, blow the place up to pieces, kidnap his daughter and order him to assassinate a major political figure in Cuba, in hopes that he’ll get his daughter back. All in one piece that is. However, John Matrix isn’t one for following the rules, especially when his family is thrown into the mix, and decides to get rid of that whole plan altogether, and go back and kill each and every one of those baddies – one-by-one, bullet-by-bullet.
I don’t think it takes a genius to know this, but the 80’s was the go-to decade for these types of corny, dumb, over-the-top action movies. Not because the decade itself was corny, dumb, and over-the-top (at least not the one in the middle), but because these movies were bad. However, they knew they were bad and asked you to just take them for what they were, and not expect too much. Nowadays, that’s a little easier said then done, especially in the world today where we have shaky-cam, Bourne movies, and PG-13 gore-fests, but back in those days? Man, it sure as hell helped to be an adrenaline-junkie and have an IQ of 48, and this was just the crown-jewel of them all.
And who else better to be the ring-leader in it than The Governator himself, Ahnuld?!?! Here’s what’s interesting about this flick though, that not many people really care to think about: This was one of the first tastes that America really, really got to know and love Ahnuld for all that he was. Of course he had Conan the Barbarian and the Terminator to his name, but neither flick really gave him a chance to show what else he could do in front of the camera, rather than just show off his guns and be a bad-ass. This time, he would actually be given a little thing in the movie industry we like to call “dialogue”, and as terrible as it was, Arnie handled it like a champ and then some.
But then again, everybody knows to expect this from an Arnold movie, hence why so many people loved the hell out of the Last Stand (despite not bothering to actually pay much money and see it), but this was the early days of Arnie-Mania, and nobody knew what they were really getting themselves into. Sure, they saw an Austrian man who delivered his lines as if he was reading off of the cue-card he was handed, and sure, there’s not much to his ability as an emotional wrecking-force that could stretch his character anymore than he already needs to be; but does that even matter when he’s as charming and as lovable as Arnie is? Seriously, the guy’s jacked-up beyond belief, and scares the daylights out of me just by a simple glance. But you can tell that he knows what type of movie he’s in, and knows that they don’t depend on him to do much else other than just be goofy, have fun, and kick some ass.
All of which he does here, and to the sheer-splendor of our eyes.
But Arnie aside, the rest of the movie is what makes it so much fun, and considered the perfect example of what “so bad, it’s good” actually means. Everything that this character, John Matrix, does, is completely idiotic and could never actually happen in real life. Yet, at the same time, you don’t care because you’re having so much fun just watching this guy pick up telephone booths; dodge every bullet that comes by him; utter terrible lines like “I let him go”; and take out a whole army camp of fake-mustached men, that also happen to be out-ranking him about 100 to one. Yes, you can probably expect what’s going to happen next to these “fake-mustached men”, and what’s going to happen to Arnie, but you don’t care how silly or predictable it is. It’s fun and stupid, and downright knows it is. It’s not demeaning, it’s just the typical, 80’s action-fest that practically put the large, Austrian weightlifter, on the map. Thank the heavens for that!
However though, that said large, Austrian weightlifter, with the exception of the incredible amounts of explosions, gunned-down people, and corny one-liners thrown out all over the place; is sadly, the best thing the movie has going for itself. Dan Hedaya camps it up as the Cuban, wannabe-politician, and Alyssa Milano is nice and pleasant to watch in her younger-years (and I don’t mean in that way, you pervs!), but everything else about is so bland, that it actually brings the movie down, as if that was even possible in the first place. Who I’m basically referring to is Rae Dawn Chong, as the sidekick/supposed love-interest of sorts for John Matrix, who gets all wrapped up into this story out of sure luck and coincidence about 20 minutes in, and is fun and vapid for the time we watch her. That’s for a good couple of minutes we actually meet her, because after that, we realize that she’s going to be in the rest of the damn flick and that there’s no way of getting rid of her. Well, that is unless John Matrix himself turns into a uncontrollable sociopath and goes on a complete rampage, killing everybody and anybody who’s around him. I wouldn’t have wanted to see that, but considering how annoying and terrible Dawn Chong was here, I was praying for it more than a couple of times. But thankfully, no matter how bothersome this chick was, Arnie and his grenade-launchers were there to save the day.
Oh, Arnie. What would the movie world be without your mispronunciation of names and knack for kicking ass?
Consensus: While it is ungodly stupid, nonsensical, ridiculous, and campy, Commando is also a flick that deserves to not be taken seriously, and enjoyed solely as an action movie that knows no limits, or laws of physics for that matter, either. It’s the old-school Arnie we love to see and it’s made even better knowing that this is where he got his real start from.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!