Commando (1985) – Mark L. Lester

This entry on the 101 Action Movies list is just good fun, its loud, violent, and a lot of fun. It’s also a prime example of the generic action films of the 1980s. It’s rather simplistic in plot, but that doesn’t take anything away from one’s enjoyment of the film.

John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a retired special forces soldier who just wants to live a quiet life with his daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano). Life it would seem has other plans. Someone is killing off his squad, all of whom had their names changed and were living happily.

Turns out, an ex-member of the unit with a personal grudge, Bennett (Vernon Wells) is having his men, including Bill Duke, execute them, and arranges to have Jenny kidnapped in the hopes of blackmailing Matrix into helping his boss, a deposed Latin American dictator, Arius (Dan Hedaya) by executing the current country’s president allowing Arius to swoop in and take control.

Bustling Matrix onto a plane, Matrix kills his minder, and then has 11 hours (the length of the flight) to hunt down Bennett and Arius and save his daughter.

arnoldLet the violence begin!

And violent it is, by film’s end, it’s estimated that Matrix kills about 81 people in his race to get his daughter back! And some of them are surprisingly violent, but it’s ok, because Matrix says something pithy when he does it.

The film is a no-brainer, but is undeniably fun, it certainly didn’t take itself seriously as Matrix rips seats out of cars, or tears a steel padlocked chain with his bare hands.

Using James Horner’s score, Schwarzenegger brings the pain to anyone who is in his way, tearing up a shopping mall as one of the thugs, Sully (David Patrick Kelly) tries to get to a phone to tell Arius Matrix isn’t on the plane.

COMMANDO-1985_portrait_w858Matrix is aided by Rae Dawn Chong as Cindy, a poor stewardess learning to be a pilot, who gets caught up in the violent adventure simply because Sully takes a shine to her.

There are explosions, loud guns, plenty of violence (the scenes where Arnold squares off against Bill Duke, and then later against Vernon Wells are both pretty sweet!), and not much plot… It is actually the typical 80s action movie, and this probably serves as the best example of the generic output of the genre that only a few films rose above to be better and greater than the usual fare.

It may sound like I’m talking down about Commando, but I won’t lie, I have a lot of fun every time I watch it, and it usually inevitably leads me to watching more 80s action flicks… Cobra, Tango & Cash, Red Heat – just the goofy action fare that seemed to populate a lot of the screens at the time.

Didn’t make a lick of difference to me and my friends, we watched every single one of them!

These films are all now guilty pleasures for me, and I could waste an afternoon or two on a couch watching them.

What are some of your fave 80s action films?


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