Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The 80s Movie Library: Commando

There’s something to be said for movies that are so bad, they’re good.  They’re often cheesy, campy, implausible, outlandish and full of obvious fake effects, stunt work and bad acting, and that’s what makes them so good!  They’re pure, mindless entertainment.  Commando is one of the best good bad movies.  First released 27 years ago, it has the simplest of plots: Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John Matrix, a retired Black Ops Commando living in the secluded mountains with his young daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano).  South American criminals kidnap his daughter to blackmail him into starting a revolution that they believe will get an exiled dictator back into power. Then Arnold kills bad guys in every way imaginable for about 90 minutes. That's it.

For 90 minutes, you’re treated to a vengeful, Rambo-esque mayhem rife with over-the-top violence and intended hilarity.  Matrix becomes a murderous machine.  He kills one enemy by pushing him onto an upended chair leg; he uses the blade of a table saw as a lethal discus; he breaks one enemy’s neck on an airplane full of people and tells the stewardess “don’t wake up my friend, he’s dead tired” and he throws a steam pipe through another guy’s chest and then quips that he’s, “Letting off some steam.” Matrix uses anything he can find within a ten-mile-radius as an implement of death. The entire film is full of cheeky silliness, over-the-top machismo and hilarious one-liners. 
More ammunition is spent in the final gunfight than was used in the entire Rambo series.  Matrix forges a one-man assault on a whole army of mercenaries by gunning down every man that gets in his way while incredibly avoiding every shot fired at him.  The film is awesome in its sheer ridiculousness and the ending is completely preposterous.  The film is meant to be watched with a complete suspension of disbelief.  It’s like a cartoon of carnage for adults with oddly captivating scenes of violence and brutality intermingled with silly humour.  You can’t help but chuckle and cheer as Matrix picks up the nearest object and uses it as a weapon of mass destruction.  Commando is one of the gems in the Schwarzenegger 80s film canon because its effect is simple – it’s so bad, it’s good.

10 comments:

  1. I remember watching this way back when it came to video. A buddy and I were watching it and about a half hour in I asked him how many people he thought Arnold had killed by that point. We guessed around 8 and kept a tally from that point on. Our numbers got thrown off some when there was an explosion that we figured must have taken out 100-150 guys.

    Arnold seems to know how to pick the young actresses to play his daughters. In True Lies his daughter was played by a young Eliza Dushku.

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    1. The film is definitely one giant slaughter fest.

      You're right - it was Eliza Dushku who played his daughter in 'True Lies.' I saw that on TV recently because it seems to be a Sunday afternoon staple, and I didn't recognize her!

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  2. This movie is so bad it's good and there are SO many bad but quotable lines. Good pick!

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    1. It's definitely among the best bad good films out there. Thanks!

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  3. I do like this film a lot. it's just a good ol' 80s action film when it actually meant something. Action that is about a guy just wanting to do what is right and kick some ass along the way. For me, this is an essential film of Schwarzenegger. He's a character you root for but also is a proven softy.

    Arnold may not be Olivier or De Niro but he's got some chops as an actor. He knows his limits and knows how to work around them.

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    1. It's a great 80s action film and one of Arnold's best. He's made some interesting choices in his career - some good, some bad - but he's showed surprising comedic talent in addition to his talent at kicking ass. I also think of him in 'Kindergarten Cop' and 'Twins' where, as you say, he plays a softy very well and is very funny to boot.

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  4. Hell yes, this is definitely one of my favorite bad movies.

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  5. Sweetness. Just so long as we all agree that this is "good bad" while something like Predator is just plain "fucking awesome," I can totally get on board with this. :)

    This is like the holy grail of wonderfully cheesy 80s action one-liners, isn't it?

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  6. Oh yes, it's definitely "good bad." "Predator" may just be a future selection from the 80s movie library.

    The cheesy one-liners are aplenty in this film and they're so much fun!

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