Cobra (1986) – George P. Cosmatos

I’ve been enjoying revisting some of the classic 80s action films, and I even remember the first time I saw this one. I wish I could have told myself what I KNOW now, this film is horrible. It’s uneven, and as much as I enjoy an action film from the Stallone oeuvre, this one is probably best forgotten.

Stallone doesn’t only star in the film, he wrote it as well, so I’m sure he knew he wanted his character to convey, but he’s so intent on having Marion Cobretti be such a hardass that when he tries to deliver a line you know is meant to be a comic beat, it falls flat.

Cobretti, or Cobra as he’s known, is a cop in the vein of Dirty Harry a la Stallone, driving a classic, souped up car (a 1950 Mercury), carrying his pistol in the front of his jeans, and dangling a match from his mouth instead of a tooth pick. He’s the cop you call to do the most dangerous jobs, and apparently when you aren’t worried about due process or police brutality.

There’s someone out there murdering people, named the Night Slasher by the media, Cobra (and honestly simple forensics would indicate this as well) believes there’s more than one killer, that it’s a group of people working together, but the police brass (including Andrew Robinson) don’t believe this could be possible, evidence be damned.

When the beautiful Ingrid (Brigitte Nielsen) gets a look at one of the killers, played by Brian Thompson (this poor guy!), Cobra is there to protect her, and begins to suspect that someone on the force is working with the group. Especially when they keep showing up at every location Cobra and Ingrid move to.

There’s a rumour of a workprint cut that adds over half an hour back into the film, and you have to wonder whether it would improve it or not. It’s no surprise to learn that Stallone directed the majority of the film, or at least any scenes featuring his character, and consequently, the film is a little disjointed, and plays like an homage to an ego instead of an well tuned action film.

We know Stallone has a solid director in him, it’s just not present in this film.

Honestly, rewatching this one now, I can only scratch my head and wonder what fifteen year old me was thinking when I first saw it, and thought it was okay. The film has its fans, and I respect that, but I don’t think I’m one of them.

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