Commando (1985)

JOHN. You know, it seems like you just can’t be a true action hero unless your name is John. That is the MANLIEST of men’s names. Just think about all the action hero characters whose name is John: John Spartan (Demolition Man), Detective John Kimble (Kindergarten Cop), John McClane (Die Hard), John Rambo (Rambo), John Connor (Terminator), and John Matrix (Commando). Granted, Kimble from Kindergarten Cop isn’t really an action hero, but he does get into some action in that movie and he’s played by Ahnold himself. My deepest sympathies to everyone out there whose name isn’t John because it looks like your chances of becoming an action hero are very slim. Now, change your name to John and you might have a chance at getting to break a friend out of a jungle prison or liberate a group of hostages from a European terrorist. You might hear your name a thousand times a day and none of them are directed towards you, but I’m sure that will never get old. I’m just sayin’. I would do it in a heartbeat but, whatever.

In Commando, we have John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) single handedly taking down a metric butt-ton of people. How much is a metric butt-ton you ask? Oh, you’ll know when you see it. There’ll be a point in the movie where you’ll say to yourself “Man! He sure has killed a lot of people!” That, my friends, is a metric butt-ton moment. Matrix’s daughter (Alyssa Milano) gets kidnapped, and Matrix spends the whole movie killing everyone until he finds his daughter by sheer process of elimination. It’s great fun and you get to see a wee-little Milano in one of her first movie roles. Then there’s Arnold! He is in tip-top shape in this one! It’s easy to forget that he was a bodybuilder first; but, in Commando, you won’t forget that fact for a second. Even I couldn’t help myself; I kept on marveling at how good of shape he was in. He was splitting logs like a knife through butter.

Arnold’s John Matrix character is a lot like John Rambo. Matrix is retired from his special operations job where he was the best at killing people. He’s just trying to live a normal life and people keep picking on him. He even has his own hype man, just like Richard Crenna was for Rambo. Matrix’s hype man says things like “If he’s still alive, I’d expect more [bodies]” and “Expect WWIII.” The similarities are uncanny.

Commando is a good action flick, but the film definitely gets liberal with the boundaries of realism. I mean, it gets pretty ridiculous at times. For example, Matrix has some superhuman strength moments, like pulling a metal chain and lock off of a gate with his bare hands or ripping a car seat out of the car without a struggle, not to mention bodyslamming a telephone booth with a dude still in it trying to make a call. In the end though, it’s a nice little romp through Ahnold-land.

Time until initial action starts: ~ 2 minutes

Time until real action starts: ~ 12 minutes

Big Bad Baddies: Two guys and a gang of disgraced U.S. soldiers

Best Line: “Let off some steam.” Matrix says this after he shoves, no throws, a pipe through a guy and pins him to a tank behind him. Steam is coming out the end of the pipe (the pipe that is going through the guy’s chest). It’s so ridiculously, stupefyingly awesome.

Best Kill: Matrix is talking to one guy in cahoots with the kidnappers. The poor stupid guy says, “If you want your kid back, you’ve got to cooperate with us, right?” Then, Matrix turns and without any kind of hesitation says, “Wrong!” Then he shoots the guy right in the head. There was so much “F*** You” to that kill it wins, hands down, as the best. Matrix will not be bullied into cooperating with the big baddies. If they want to live, they had better cooperate with Matrix.

Best Explosion: Matrix sets up some bombs outside a couple of buildings. Then as the enemies realize that he’s there and come after him, the bombs blow. It blows up close to five buildings and a tower. The buildings get blown to such tiny pieces that people say, “Oh, those pieces are so cute. Look how tiny they are.”

Action Rating: 4 1/2 Arnolds choppin’ limbs and catchin’ phrases, out of 5.

This is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!

Ahnold loppin' limbs and catchin' phrases

Illustration by Alex Langley. Rocket Llama World Headquarters.

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12 thoughts on “Commando (1985)

  1. Pingback: » Commando (1985)

  2. Tommy Salami

    Sometimes you review an oldie and don’t give it the credit it deserves, but you passed the Commando test with flying colors. This is the grand-daddy of 80s action stupidity, and it can do no wrong!

  3. Rick Swift

    This was the movie I heard my dad say, “bits o guy” for the first time, heh. Definitely a must for any 80s action buffs. And, yes, this one is chock full of one-liners too good to pass up.

  4. Rick "The Hat" Bman

    Commando is just a ridiculous and over the top action movie… and that is what makes it so much fun.

    I think I would slightly disagree on Best Line though, of course this movie has so many good one liners that it really is hard to decide on the best. My favorite though, would have to be:

    “Sully, remember when I promised to kill you last?”
    “That’s right, Matrix! You did!”
    “I lied.”

    He drops Sully off the cliff and then a few minutes later.

    “What happened to Sully?”
    “I let him go.”

  5. Reel Whore

    …finds his daughter by sheer process of elimination – haha!

    You nailed Commando perfectly. Great, cheesy lines, savage wanton mayhem and murder and Ahnold. The 80’s were such a grand time. I may need to pull this off the shelf to walk down the mine fields of memory lane.

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  8. Bobby Bless

    I love this movie, but I'm not sure if it's because he basically kills the same guy over and over again or because of that kick ass steel drum track they play over and over again… it may be both.

  9. RussellMania

    I love this (as you can tell since I have the Commando posters in a couple of my She’s Out of my League review and Twilight reaction video ) and all of Arnold’s action movies….Twins and Junior…not so much. My favorite line is the bad guy reminding Arnold that he liked him…so therefore he would kill him last. “I lied!”. I need to add this movie to my Arnold collection soon (currently at 11).

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