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Commando Review

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by AVForums Mar 16, 2008

    Commando Review
    Arnie was at his height when this was made, anyone with any sense and wanting to produce an action movie would have come to him or Sly Stallone, the battle of the bulges continued throughout the eighties.

    We start with John Matrix, a retired undercover operative who's now trying to lead a peaceful life with his daughter, out in the sticks chopping wood. All's not well though, for whatever reason his earlier team members, also with new identities, are being systematically bumped off; it's only a matter of time before they get to John himself.

    And they do, storming his idyllic country house, killing his two assigned bodyguards they kidnap his daughter and hold her ransom until John kills the democratically elected head of a central American country and replace him with a despot who he ousted many years ago. Fair enough, John goes along with the plan, breaks free and realises he has 11 hours to get his daughter back before the baddies cotton on to his moves. The chase begins.

    Really Commando is a mess of a film and if it wasn't for Arnie then this would have fallen upon stony ground, probably to being resigned to some TV schedule and never heard of again. It's only saving grace is the ex Mr Universe, some totally bizarre scenes and a set of additional cardboard cut out characters who at times even fail to reach 2 dimensionality never mind 3. If you turn your brain off then you can enjoy this ride, faults and all, and have a damn good laugh in doing so.

    Arnie comes away with a number of one-liners which became increasingly known for... "I let him go" as he drops a guy off a cliff, "Let off steam" as he impales a bad guy with a pipe puncturing his chest and a boiler, the usual "I'll be back" and a myriad of others. It's warming to know that even though his daughter's in mortal peril he still has the time to joke his way through this experience.

    Continuity has been mentioned time and again for this feature with the infamous Porsche scene taking first place. How on earth Arnie follows Sully in a beat up red thing, then catches the Porsche is one thing. Running the Porsche off the road though and ruining not only it's paintwork but the wing mirrors and the drivers side door although miraculously in the very next scene the Porsche is pristine, well you have to look good!

    Sundry characters come from the Enid Blyton School of writing, none make sense really and all are stereotypical with no meat on their bones. The evil dictator wanting to regain power is played desperately enough by Dan Hedaya (Alien Resurrection), the bad guys are in a class of their own though. David Patrick Kely coming in as a weasel of a character drops in quite nicely and is a good enough foil for Arnie to play off, but is Veronon Wells, middle of the road jobbing actor, as Bennett who really takes the biscuit. Supposedly a badass marine in the same mould as Matrix he's really just a psychotic cross between a camp Kenneth Williams and Jesse Ventura. His real aim in life though is to either be a member of The Village People of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Certainly with this role he could fit into either two with ease.

    The confidant that Arnie picks up here as he does in all his films is one Rae Dawn Chong as Cindy. She ultimately tags along for the ride and the laughs but in all reality why would one do so. I mean she's been kidnapped, shot at, been in the middle of a knife fight and still she decides to go the whole way and help our erstwhile hero infiltrate and obliterate a small island community. It's not going to happen really is it, from two angles... first she would have run a mile (and to the script writers small credit she does try this near the start of her adventure) and secondly Arnie, crack Marine, probably Navy Seal and performing artist all rolled into one would not have taken her as additional baggage. Well I suppose even our tough guy needs a little eye candy to help him on his way.

    Ultimately though it's not about the rights and wrongs, the plot holes yet to be filled, the car bodywork miraculously repairing itself. It all about the muscles, the big weapons, the loud explosions, the all too many bad guys Arnie dispatches with ease, the one-liners littered throughout the film and on this level it works. I remember watching on video when it was initially released and whilst acknowledging then that it wasn't one of Arnie's better efforts it was still a fun enough ride. That ride is still there to a certain degree, but like all things the ride is looking a little dated and there's faster, more gravity assisted varieties out there now for your viewing pleasure.