Commando is the 1985 blockbuster that put Arnold in the list of Hollywood action icons. A year after Arnold spoke the words that made him a cultural phenomenon, even though it took him a week to learn, he blurts out the same words to the man who is holding his daughter hostage.
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Arnold plays John Matrix, a retired army colonel who is living with his beautiful daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). One day after many of his men was killed, John and his daughter are taken by a gang of extremists led by Bennet (Vernon Wells). The leader Arius (Dan Hedaya) demands him to kill the president of Val Verda, as the president trusts John personally. He was put on a plane by Arius’s accomplices. John then kills the accomplice who was sent to watch him and escapes from the plane. He goes on with one mission, that is to save his daughter before the plane lands in Val Verde. He goes on with the help of an air hostess named Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong).
I remember watching this film (several times) and each time introduces something new in terms of analysis. There are many notable effects and suspense keeps you at brink. However, there are elements that will make every hard core film critic cringe. From over the top action, plot holes, hypermasculinity, over acting, whiny side kick character, and overdone technical aspects. The ’80s and ’90s saw so many actions films with (too much) machismo and one-liners. Commando is one such example. John Matrix is so invincible that he could probably defeat Ironman through a fist fight. Matrix is frequently described by several characters as someone who is *huge* or *gigantic*. He lifts a phone booth off the wall (with a man inside). He holds a guy upside down with one hand and the ultimate part is the final gunfight. Several armed attacks him, he kills them all with his machine gun without a single bullet hitting him. That’s the most unbelievable part because a six foot tall, heavily built shirtless guy is standing there visibly and not even a single trained soldier could get him, from any direction as a matter of fact. Filmmakers who are making Tamil/Telugu macho films could keep this film as their reference. Also, there are technical fallouts. I’m a die hard fan of James Horner (RIP), but this film had too much noise than melody. For eg: when Cindy is just walking in the mall, a disco type music is heard in the background. Music is played unnecessarily in many parts. Same thing about visual effects. Thanks to HD, we could easily identify the dummies used during the explosions scenes. That’s bad. In spite of all these faults, you will still love this film. At least, I did. The whole film is enthralling, with family value added to the plot. At the end of the day, the whole movie is about a father trying to rescue his daughter, nothing more.
This is a role that is meant for Arnold. He didn’t have to act much. Instead, he just had to show off his terminator/predator-body building skills. Alyssa Milano was tough, adorable and expressive. She was helpless as a child in men with guns world, but then little of bit commando’s blood was shown in her. In addition to that, the character Cindy in this story made it better. Even though she seemed quirky and annoying, she is part of John’s game. She was forced into the whole thing initially, but then she volunteers even after knowing that she is dealing with trained men and guns. She rescued the macho man twice and made his journey easier. Another plus point is that she never became the damsel in distress, which is the last thing needed in an exaggerated storyline like this. Dan Hedaya was considerable as Arius, it is Vernon Wells who gets to do his share of overacting, especially in the final shown down with Matrix. Commando is a flawed yet enjoyable film, probably one of the best in machismo men’s genre.
Featured image: screenshot
Featured image: screenshot