Released in 1985, Commando is a fun, breezy film that loves it’s over-the-top violence, and doesn’t care for characterization outside of portraying Arnold Schwarzenegger as an unstoppable force of nature. Nothing more, nothing less. And you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that and believe that, sometimes, middle-of-the-road movies like these are a welcome change of pace from the constant extremes of watching cinema or drivel.
Commando follows Schwarzenegger as a retired commando that’s out to rescue his daughter after she’s been kidnapped by a dictator he had once ousted. Oh, and along the way, he also repeatedly performs Herculean feats of strength/endurance like flipping a phone booth and car over, as well as being able to dive out of a plane during takeoff without incurring any injuries.
One of the things that really helps with this movies watchability is that it seems to be at least somewhat self aware of how funny and absurd that it, and it’s star, can be. While action movies from some of Schwarzenegger’s contemporaries (such as Sylvester Stallone, for instance) tend to lean in on how overtly macho/”tough” their characters are, Commando knows that we can recognize that after taking a single look at our protagonist. The guy is over 6 feet tall and can rip seats out of convertibles like they’re a roll of paper towels. We get it. So, instead of being redundant, the film allows Arnie to crack wise and deliver delightfully cringe-inducing one-liners with a straight face. It’s great and, in a lot of ways, laid the foundation for the type of roles that the Governator would tend to take for the rest of his career.
And honestly, that’s the best that I can say about this movie.
Is Commando Schwarzenegger’s best? Probably not. In fact, it probably struggles to place itself among the better movies in his canon, and it certainly isn’t one of his more iconic movies, either. But on it’s own, it’s a lot of fun while it lasts and that’s more than enough reason to give it a watch. I personally had a blast rewatching this movie, even though I’m somewhat at a loss for words about. So, if you haven’t seen Commando before, I’d say give it a watch. You won’t remember it anywhere as well as you would any of the Terminator movies, nor as well as you might remember something like Predator but there’s a lot of fun to be had here, nonetheless.
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you wanna hear more of my thoughts on Commando, I highly recommend that you check out my podcast, Media Obscura! We did an episode on it that you can listen to from your favorite podcast player, or via the Spotify embed below!