Title: Commando (1985)
Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vernon Wells, Bill Duke, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya and Alyssa Milano
John Matrix played by Arnold (yes, that really is his name), is a former soldier, retired from service and enjoying an idyllic life with his daughter Jenny (Milano). We learn that his former team are being systematically murdered and that he is most probably next. Then Jenny is kidnapped by Bennett (Wells), a disgraced former member of Arnie’s team, who now works for a dictator called Arius (Hedaya). He was ousted from power by Arnie and lost his place to a new, more diplomatic leader. Matrix is tasked with killing the leader of Val Verde, or they will kill Jenny. Naturally things don’t quite go to plan and Matrix enlists the help of a budding pilot (Dawn Chong) in order to gain access to Val Verde incognito. Facing overwhelming odds, Matrix dukes it out with an entire army and the crazed Bennett, who really has it in for him.
This was a make or break film for Arnie, who had just come off the hugely popular The Terminator, which made him into a massive star. So, in order to preserve his new found fame, he needed a good follow-up smash. He was also already 38 years old and needed to fight off any potential contenders to his newly won crown. Luckily Arnie is a blast in the role and has some fantastic one-liners and fights, especially with Bill Duke and Vernon Wells. He had wonderful chemistry with Wells, and both seemed to be having a rip-roaring time with each other. There is also great support from Bill Duke, David Patrick Kelly and the purposely cheesy, Dan Hedaya. Bill Paxton also has a cameo as a nervous air-traffic controller.
Commando is perhaps the personification of big, dumb 80s action movies. Some of the scenes are ridiculous, including cardboard cut-out soldiers in the background, trampoline aided reactions for explosions and the same men dying twice on camera. Arnie never seems to reload and a grenade literally goes off by his feet and the only injury he sustains is a slight graze to the side. Despite these inaccuracies the film is still a riot. Best of all is Vernon Well’s supposed chain-mail vest, which upon closer inspection appears to be made out of wool!
This movie will make you laugh, pump your fist in the air and generally provide you with great entertainment. Arnold has made some very enjoyable action movies and this is definitely one of them. Don’t be afraid to go commando, watch it now.