Commando is an awesome 80s cliché action flick starring the god of 80s cliché action flicks. Arnold Schwarzenegger is at his destructive best as John Matrix, a retired super soldier trying to spend time with his daughter (Alyssa Milano) in a secluded wilderness retreat.
As everyone knows, 80s action stars aren’t allowed to retire. Matrix is brought out of retirement after what seems like thousands of confirmed kills when his daughter is kidnapped and her death is imminent unless Arnold kills the President of a fictional country, which will allow the bad guys to take over Valverde. Commando is a convoluted mess, but it is one of the best senseless action movies of all time.
1. John Matrix
John Matrix is an Eastern European name. Seriously, that’s what Commando wants you to believe. Arnold Schwarzenegger was famously told by Mark Hamill to change his name and lose his accent. Not only did Arnold not do that, he doubled down on all that stuff and signed on to play a guy named John Matrix. He’s also played characters named Ben Richards, Harry Tasker, John Kruger, Howard Langston, Adam Gibson and Ray Owens. It’s just as preposterous as plane-pissing Gérard Depardieu taking on the role of Fred Williams, you’re just used to Arnold doing it.
2. Mall Strength
When several mall security guards mob you at one time, all you have to do is yell and stand up straight, and they will fly away from you like they are weightless. Don’t get me wrong. He flips a car over, holds a human being out over a cliff with his ‘weak’ arm and throws a metal steam pipe through another human being. Short of yelling ‘HULK SMASH‘, this was perhaps the most cartoonish feat of brute Arnold Schwarzenegger strength in Commando. It happens at around 1:05.
3. You F****N’ Whore
It seemed almost acceptable to treat women like shit in 1980s pop culture. Seriously, Cindy, played by Rae Dawn Chong, is constantly harassed by Sully (David Patrick Kelly) in a mall and the mall’s parking lot. There are plenty of people to see him harassing her in the mall, and nobody does anything. When Cindy refuses Sully’s advances while getting into her car he says: “You f****n’ whore!” and walks away.
4. Soft Landing
If you are a hundred feet up in the air a knee-deep swamp is more than enough cushion to avoid any injuries due to the fall. The plane is going at least 180MPH and he’s at least 100 feet in the air. Not only does he not sustain any life-threatening injuries, he is unscathed.
5. No Training Required
It takes no training to fire a rocket launcher. They tried to suspend disbelief here by having Cindy fire the first rocket backwards by mistake. Then, she simply turns it around and scores a perfect hit on an armored transport. Not only does she disable the vehicle, Arnold Schwarzenegger manages to avoid injury and is able to continue his blood-soaked rampage unhindered.
6. Bill Paxton
Bill Paxton (RIP) had a small part in Commando. It was his second collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1984, Paxton played the leader of a punk gang who runs afoul of The Terminator. Still, he was just a year away from his memorable breakout role as the brash Private Hudson in Aliens.
7. Terrible Soldiers
While this scene is relentlessly entertaining, what stands out the most is how terrible trained soldiers from other countries can be. These guys make the Keystone Cops look good. At times, it seems as though the soldiers are just running at Arnold Schwarzenegger with reckless abandon, even though they all seem to be armed with semi-automatic rifles or better. Out of the hundreds and hundreds – if not thousands of rounds fired at Arnold, the only thing that hurts him is a grenade. Even though it seems the grenade explodes feet from him, he sustains an injury to his side that seems to heal a few minutes later.
8. Electrocution Solution
If you get electrocuted your heart doesn’t stop and you don’t die. No, you actually gain superhuman strength and while your punches are just as slow before you got fried, they now have unrelenting accuracy and power. If you think about it, the only way this could have worked is if Bennett was a mutant and had two powers. 1) superhuman adrenaline surge through certain death by electrocution and 2) when electrocuted, you steal the lifeforce of your closest enemy.
9. Casting Call
Some studio exec thought a worthy adversary for a cartoonish killing machine embodied by Arnold Schwarzenegger should be played by pudgy Vernon Wells. Wells’ Bennett is even more cartoonish than Arnold’s Matrix and he wears a leather vest covered by flimsy chain mail armor. His Australian accent clashes with Arnold’s Austrian accent and the hilarity ensues. As ridiculous of a villain as Bennett is, the only thing more ridiculous is how he dies.
10. Brutal Honesty
As in other movies, when Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers one of his patented one-liners, they aren’t really jokes. It’s brutal honesty.
“Let off some steam, Bennett!” (Arnold rips a steam pipe out of the wall and throws it through Bennett like a javelin. Not only does it completely obliterate Bennett’s spine on the way through, it somehow punches through the wall behind him and then glorious steam pipes in through
“Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.” (Arnold breaks the neck of the goon sent to keep an eye on him before politely asking the flight attendant to not ‘disturb’ him)
Even when he’s holding Sully by one leg over a cliff, Arnold is reminded that he promised to kill him last when Sully decided it would be a good idea to insinuate that he was going to rape his pre-teen daughter. Arnold drops him to certain doom while uttering: “I lied.” Then, on the way back to the car, Cindy asks what happened to Sully. Arnold honestly replies: “I let him go.”
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