Saturday, August 15, 2020


Movie Name: Commando
Year of Release: 1985
Director: Mark L. Lester
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, Alyssa Milano, David Patrick Kelly, James Olson, Bill Duke, Drew Snyder
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4 

Synopsis and Review:
Director Mark L. Lester was fresh off the Stephen King adaptation "Firestarter" when he directed this follow up, "Commando", which featured a screenplay by the well known Steven E. de Souza (who was then well known for his TV writing, and for Walter Hill's "48 Hours", but who would go on to write John McTiernan's "Die Hard" and even Michael Lehman's maligned "Hudson Hawk"). "Commando" follows the story of John Matrix, a retired special forces agent, who lives up in the mountains with his daughter. He's suddenly drawn out of retirement, when a deposed dictator kidnaps his daughter, and uses her as a bargaining chip, threatening to kill her, unless Matrix murders the current President of that nation. Matrix decides to escape the gridlock of the situation, and goes on the hunt for the captors of his daughter, with the help of an uncertain, but resourceful stewardess whom he recruits to help him.
"Commando" signaled Arnold Schwarzenegger's additional step in cementing his credentials as one of the action stars of the 80s. Following John Milius's "Conan The Barbarian" (alongside its sequel, Richard Fleischer's "Conan The Destroyer) and James Cameron's "The Terminator", "Commando", with its meager premise, paved way for a lot of the action set pieces and destruction that would be associated with Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and even Bruce Willis's careers. The film is essentially a big budget B-movie, one where the director doesn't spend much time defining the characters or their motivations. The motivations are clearly outlined and explained, with Matrix stopping at nothing, and killing everyone in sight to recover his daughter. Rae Dawn Chong is a mix of potential love interest, and comedic side kick, sadly her character is crudely defined and her interactions with Schwarzenegger lack chemistry and even a hint of attraction between the characters themselves (her character ultimately is an embodiment of a lot of the characterization which was provided to female characters in action films of the 80s, namely, supporting player to the virile hero, objectification, all this married with a general silliness/lack of credibility throughout the narrative). Ultimately it's a film that is quickly forgettable, but its B-movie aesthetic and approach still manages to capture some attention.