Commando (Director’s Cut)(1985): Breakdown by Kain424
An ex-Special Forces operative’s daughter is kidnapped. Rather than negotiate her return or deal with the demands of the kidnappers at all, he kills over a hundred people in order to get her back.
Coming out the same year as Rambo: First Blood Part II, Commando is one of the forerunners to what we now know of as 80s Action. Along with other films like Chuck Norris‘s Missing In Action series, this genre off-shoot was based around a super-soldier type, who becomes a one man army in order to accomplish his heroic ends. Already proving himself able of great feats of heroism as a barbarian warrior, and capable of delivering a powerhouse performance as a cyborg assassin with little to no dialog, it was as if Arnie was made for the role before it was even written.
Schwarzenegger, as John Matrix, becomes the killing machine we all know and love here. The power that was hinted at in The Terminator comes out in full force here in the form of one-liners, big-ass guns, a thick accent, and a nearly unrivaled bodycount. Also of note are minor players Bill Duke, David Patrick Kelly, Dan Hedaya, and a small role from Bill Paxton.
A good portion of the film is devoted to the build-up for the explosive climax, with Matrix essentially beating boss after boss to work his way to the antagonist’s compound/island base. It’s all very much like a video game, and the finale plays like a shooter. It’s entirely possible that many game developers were inspired by this and the Rambo films. In fact, I’m sure they were. And one thing the movie doesn’t do is disappoint. The final gun battle is a sight to behold, as wave after wave of unnamed Val Verde thugs are mowed down as they attempt to swarm Matrix.
It’s a movie that requires a complete suspension of our intellect’s ability to be fickle about the way the universe works. Facing a man known for killing mass amounts of people with very little effort, the villains still persist in poking at him. They should be shitting their pants when he glances at them. This guy can tear metal chains in half, survive grenade attacks, and start airplanes simply by threatening them. The fact that the tail end of the film is a shootout between him and (literally) an army is a testament to his freakish bad-assitude.
This is classic 80s and classic Arnold, all rolled up into one fun action flick, destined for good times and testosterone-pumping power. It’s a fucking masterpiece.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Arnold Schwarzenegger is Colonel John Matrix
Whether Matrix has a gun or not, he will fucking kill you. Think you can negotiate with him? “Wrong.” This guy spends his spare time walking through the mountains carrying a chainsaw in one hand and a goddamn TREE in the other. Literally. He can rip car seats out of cars, telephone booths (with people in them) off the ground, and wield an M60 machine gun one-handed. John Matrix is the ultimate one-man war machine, and even his former commanding officer expects “World War III” when his daughter is kidnapped.
[THE BODY COUNT: 109, Maybe More]
109 people die in this film. Schwarzenegger kills 102 of them. By himself (watch it happen HERE). The manners of death include death by shooting, breaking of the neck, falling from great height, stabbing, bleeding out, being impaled, blown up, and intense head trauma. The end of the movie is essentially one long battle wherein Matrix ends 95 lives, barely sustaining injury to himself. For a full breakdown, go HERE.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
One of the things that makes Arnie’s movies so great is that they have plenty of novelty deaths. This one is no different. Whether it be killing by guns, knives, pitchforks, or buzzsaws, there are many awesome deaths. My own favorite, is probably the death of Sully, played by the always-fun David Patrick Kelly.
Sully is a little sleazeball of a character, putting dollar bills into Matrix’s pocket, telling him that they (da bad guys) will be spending time with his daughter while Matrix is doing their dirty work. Matrix responds by telling him that he’ll kill him last. Several chase scenes later, Matrix has caught up with Sully and picks him up by his ankle and, dangling him over a cliff with one hand, reminds him, “Remember when I told you I’d kill you last?”
“That’s right, Matrix! You did!”
“I lied,” Matrix growls and drops Sully, sleazy suit and all, down the cliffside.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
In addition to carrying trees down mountains, Matrix apparently likes to dress in pink, eat ice cream while talking with his daughter about Boy George, and feed deer from his hand. His former C.O. taught him all about being “silent and smooth,” which I guess makes him far more stealthy in the sack than he is in full battle mode.
Furthermore, one could make a case for this film being metaphorically about the custody issues between two, recently-split homosexual life partners and it would seem very true. The character of Bennett frequently references some past transgression that Matrix committed against him and to top it off, wears a silly pornstar mustache, fingerless leather gloves, a dog chain and chainmail (which is about two sizes too small for him).
There is also a strange little moment in the film where two wrestling, muscled-out dudes break through a hotel door and into a room where a seemingly heterosexual couple is naked in a bed. However, the big-breasted woman is in a sitting position BEHIND the man. As Rae Dawn Chong puts it, “I don’t believe this macho bullshit!”. It’s an odd moment, to be sure.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Aside from the helpless daughter figure (played by Alyssa Milano, who spends much of the film crying in a locked room), there is the character of Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong). To make up for the fact that she whines, cries, and screams incessantly, they give her the ability to fly a plane. Of Course, Matrix uses her for this ability and even shows her up by getting the plane to start. Sure, she gets to fire a rocket launcher at one point, but she fucks it up, proving once and for all that women have no business in the military. At least as far as this film is concerned.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
After manhandling/beating the shit out of one another for several minutes straight, Matrix and Bennett come to somewhat of a standstill. Matrix, with only one arm has beaten Bennett, who now leans back against the wall. Ever the scoundrel, he pulls out an uzi and prepares to dispatch Matrix, threatening to shoot him “between the balls.” Matrix rips a hot pipe from the wall next to him and, chucks it like a javelin, impaling Bennett to the boiler behind him, effectively turning him into a human tea-kettle, and says:
“Let out some steam, Bennett!”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever fuck with Arnold Schwarzenegger. You are not safe anywhere if you do. You can have your own private island with your own private army, and he will hunt you down, kill your army, and shove a 200 lb. piece of metal piping through your chest. You’d be better off slapping Van Damme’s girlfriend’s ass than looking the wrong way at Arnie’s kid. You want to be a dictator of a small, unheard of, South American country? Risk a full-scale revolution before trying to shoehorn Schwarzy into your plans.
[THE SIGNS OF SCHWARZENEGGER: 5 outta 5]
[X] Performs A Ridiculous Feat(s) of Strength
[X] Says, “I’ll be back.”
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[X] Unnecessarily Violent Opponent Dispatch
[X] Wields A Big Gun or Sword With One Arm
[THE CHECKLIST: 17 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice*
*See the poster’s tagline.
HE FOUGHT FOR LOVE, HE KILLED FOR PLEASURE!
Commando (1985) © Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and Home Entertainment