“Commando” | Movie Review

commando-1985-3Grade (B)

One of the classic Arnold action flicks loaded with 80’s nostalgia for the genre.

During the decade an actors career could skyrocket with the ability to pull off the image of action hero and not many did that as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

By the time “Commando” was released in late 1985, Arnold had already shined on the silver-screen in films such as; “The Terminator” and “Conan the Barbarian” and despite his lack of English speaking, he was beginning his rise among the ranks of Hollywood’s action-elite. Mark L. Lester directs this action filled rescue tale that also stars; Alyssa Milano, Dan Hedaya, Bill Duke, and Rae Dawn Chong.

Former black-ops agent John Matrix (Schwarzenegger) is forced from his quiet retired life when his young daughter Jenny (Milano) is kidnapped. The criminals responsible demand Matrix kill a influential South American politician or else his daughter will be killed. With the minutes ticking away, Matrix will wage a war against the kidnappers and he will soon find out that some of the men responsible for kidnapping his daughter are closer to him than he could have ever imagined.

“Commando” will always be one of my favorite 80’s action films. It is filled with all the trademark themes we remember from the genre and the decade. The explosions are plentiful, grenades dropped into enemy bunkers send enemies reeling from a churning ball of flames like gymnasts. The dialogue is cheesy and very elementary, yet it all plays out in entertaining fashion onscreen.

The story-line is a rather simple plot, a rescue mission pitting Arnold against a gang of generic thugs, but intelligent who-done-its, are not what you expect when watching a film like this. What you do except are some cheesy jokes, tons of action, and “Commando” delivers all that and more.


Arnold leaves a trail of bodies and damage in his wake as he tracks down his daughter, and it is great to see. The action is the film is extremely frequent and features car chases, hand-to-hand combat, large scale stunts and not to mention Arnold using virtually a military-sized arsenal of large scale weaponry to destroy the enemies compound, and the result is explosive to say the least. It may not be a highly intelligent film but it does hold homage to the time when filmmakers would actually blow things up and use real-life stunts as opposed to the CGI world of today.

Sure the dialogue in the film is bad, and the jokes are way too blatant, but it still can draw a chuckle even today. The pace of the film helps, the story starts out relatively fast after a textbook 1980’s music montage during the opening credits that quickly and clearly explains the bond between father and daughter.

Immediately after, the pace picks up and holds steady to a swift end that includes an always entertaining final confrontation between the main character and antagonist. You will never have any doubt that Arnold will achieve his goals but it doesn’t matter. You watch this film to see Arnold in his prime, take on an army of recycled villains, and the result is always entertaining.

“Commando” is a classic action film from the 80’s and still holds its entertainment value today. Arnold may not be the best line-for-line actor, but in the decade he would rise to a worldwide action-star and this film was one of the springboard projects on his way to the top.

Time: 90 min

MPAA Rating: R (For violence, language and brief-nudity)