Command Performance (2009): Breakdown by Kain424
Die Hard at a concert. An ex-biker gang member (and current rock band drummer) is trapped in a concert hall with a group of Russian terrorists who have kidnapped the President and his daughters.
Lundgren’s had a spotty directorial record, The Defender isn’t much to talk about, The Mechanik being actually pretty decent, Diamond Dogs interesting but ultimately lackluster, and Missionary Man rather bland. But Command Performance puts the big guy back on track, being violent, fun, loud, and damn good. As the title card explodes, you know this one’s gonna be a blast.
Though most of the ‘Die Hard on a _____’ movies died out about ten years ago, this one comes out guns blazing, never looking back. This fearlessness helps to distract from the old ideas, and allows the movie to move forward with its sense of humor and bloody goings on. Dolph performs well here, probably better than he has in a long time. He gives his character a sense of humor and a past that makes sense, grounding him as more likable and believable than I think we’re accustomed to seeing from the Swedish giant. And it’s been far too long since I’ve seen a good lock and load montage. So hell yeah!
Watching the movie, which Lundgren also spent time writing, one gets the idea that they must have been having a blast putting in all sorts of these awesome ideas. There are people being killed or foiled by musical instruments, little girls embarrassing their presidential father by gyrating to plastic pop music, and a weed-smoking Dolph, seeming less like a band member and more like a roadie. And everything still seems to gel, including his hair. The humor sets the mood for such a wild time you can’t help but enjoy the results.
That’s not to say it’s all good news. Some of the acting is a bit distracting, Russians are speaking English a bit too often, and the ending comes as a bit of a letdown. I’m not saying it was disappointing, but rather that it didn’t quite reach the excellent fun that was Command Performance‘s first hour. The use of shaky cam in a few scenes also detract from the enjoyment of the movie, but the fight scenes are done well enough to make up for it.
This is DTV, but it is good DTV. At only an hour and a half, the film is a breeze to sit through. The action, Lundgren, and the humor are all thoroughly entertaining. This is Dolph’s best in a long time.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Dolph Lundgren is Joe, the Drummer
Joe has played the toughest gigs, ridden in a Californian biker gang, and killed Columbian drug dealers to avenge his brother’s death. He can kill with all rock instruments, literally. Of the people he kills in this film, only two are slain with guns. He is a brute, preferring to beat his opponents to death with blunt objects. Rock and roll, he’s a bad-ass alright.
[THE BODY COUNT: 120]
Dolph Lundgren is, quite possibly, the deadliest Action hero of all time. All tallied up, he has killed over 600 people in his films. As this is so, it will come as a bit of a surprise that he only kills 10 people over the course of Command Performance. This doesn’t mean the total count is low, however. In one of the more violent DTV flicks yet produced, the villains manage to rack up most of the film’s 120 kills. Most of the victims die from gunshot wounds, but there are also impalements, stabbings, slit throats, and deaths from repeated blows to the head. All of which are shown in violent, bloody ways. In one scene, the terrorists fire into the crowd, bodies are dropping from the balcony and people are fleeing and screaming. So my count is as close as I think is possible.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
With all the terrorists running about, it’s strange that I gained the most satisfaction from the death of one of the hostages. There’s this reporter named Ali Connor, an opportunist bitch who ignores her interview subjects and schemes, while people are dying, to become rich from the incident.
As all the rest of the hostages are being rescued, she alone seems to think, because she has a data disc with the events recorded onto it, that she deserves special treatment. The Russian special forces members order the hostages to lie down, but Ali does not, instead just raising the disc into the air and yapping about, as if it were some badge of magical safety. She is promptly mowed down. Ha! Ha!
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
I keep trying to figure out Joe’s sexuality in this film. In a flashback sequence, we see a man shot and an emotional Dolph clutching and hugging him. Later it is shown the man was his brother, but it set the ball rolling. There’s a funny scene where Dolph and another man get into a fight and Lundgren shoves a drumstick up through the guy’s head and out his eye socket. “Don’t touch the hair,” he quips. Then he puts his face eerily close to the dead man’s. I don’t know why.
Dolph manages, even in his fifties, to run around the stadium either shirtless or nearly shirtless for almost the entire picture. This, even during scenes where he’s hugging and cuddling with his male bandmates. He also seems reluctant to bang the little pop singer who clearly wants a personal drumming lesson. Still, after all is said and done, the Dolphster rides off into the sunset with the girl. I guess the life or death situation showed him what was important in life. Plus, his badmates were all dead by this point, so what else is the guy gonna do? At least she can further his career, right?
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Without going too far into the specifics of pop music in general, I’ll just say that it’s a misogynistic machine that turns kids into sex objects and adults in perverts. This film only reinforces that interpretation.
The main bad guy frequently refers to every woman simply as “bitch”. This is done several times during the film and is actually pretty damn funny. Especially with his accent. With the sole exception of a military woman who is seen several times throughout the film, the women of Command Performance are all shown as either mindless followers, superficial, or unsympathetic opportunists. The movie’s pop star character, Venus (so, you know, right there…), sells out her looks and talent for millions of dollars rather than do anything creative.
…Of course, now that I think of it, that’s probably not such a bad idea.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
The terrorists have taken some of the hostages to the stage, where they plan to execute them. But rock and roll drummer Joe is having none of that. He cranks the amps on the stage, plugs in a guitar, and takes out the bad guys with the power of ROCK!
I’m not kidding. Dolph then proceeds to smash a guitar over a terrorist’s head, breaking it, and then killing the guy by stabbing him with the broken axe’s bridge. It’s fucking beautiful. Eat your heart out, Jason Voorhees! This was easily the single best guitar-as-a-weapon kill I’ve ever seen, and that includes all of Slumber Party Massacre II.
As for the one-liner, Mr. Lundgren’s got that one set up from day one. The pop singer, one of the President’s daughters, and Joe are outside of the room where the terrorists are holding the President. Venus, seeing Dolph getting ready to storm the baddies, says, “Joe, don’t get killed.”
He replies, “And when this is over, I wanna renegotiate my royalty rate. I may need your contacts.”
“How can you talk about business at a time like this? Those bastards are trying to kill us!”
Cool as only he can be, and before rushing in on the bad guys, he responds, “Dying’s easy. Rock and roll is hard.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Rock isn’t dead, it’s deadly.
[THE LIST OF LUNDGREN: 3 outta 5]
[X] Ends The Movie Smiling
[ ] Gets Captured
[X] Screams While Shooting
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[ ] Teaches Values
[THE CHECKLIST: 15 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] 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] Factory/Warehouse *
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] 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)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
* There are long empty corridors and a huge arena, so I think I can get away with this one.
In Soviet Russia, The Hand Shakes YOU!
Command Performance (2009) © Nu Image Films