The Great Movie Re-Watch
Mark L. Lester
Steven E. de Souza
Rae Dawn Chong
A retired Special Forces colonel tries to save his daughter, who was abducted by his former subordinate.
Commando wastes exactly zero time getting into things. It starts with bad guys killing people, then moves right into John Matrix, Arnold Schwarzenegger, carrying a tree trunk over his shoulder while also holding a chainsaw. There is no wasted time or bloat, and at a 90 minute running time, it’s the perfect length.
Whether they realize it or not, this is the movie most people think of when they think of 80s action movies. You’ve got the over-the-top hero who has a high body count and is virtually unstoppable. A clear bad guy that is, in this case, more than a little unhinged. Multiple one-liners and a basic plotline. It’s uncomplicated, and when the main goal is completed, the movie stops, no matter what else is up in the air.
One of my favorite parts of Commando is Rae Dawn Chong’s character. I love the way she handles herself around first the scummy henchman and then later Matrix. She doesn’t let either man push her around, well, Matrix to a degree, but when he isn’t around her, she immediately goes to the cops. Then she decides for herself to help him. When he’s bossy, she answers back. She doesn’t come off as a pushover. She’s not forceful and in your face, but she’s a survivor and has a say in what happens to her. I like her.
What is even better than all of that, Matrix and Chong’s character do not kiss. I love it! So many action movies put a couple in constant peril, with the male hero a lot of the time being a total dick to the woman while he’s saving the day, and then it ends with them kissing. I hateeeee that. Good for you for saving the day but after the way you treated her, why the fuck would she kiss you??? It’s such a male power fantasy trip at the woman’s expense, and it always bothers me.
Bennett, Vernon Wells, is wearing a crochet vest that is supposed to look like chainmail, and I will never be able to take him seriously or find him threatening. Every time he appears on the screen, I’m just looking at his vest and wondering if his grandma gave it to him and if he kills people who bring it up. There’s also the clear, nearly orgasmic faces he makes when facing off with Matrix at the end. Dude clearly has some more than homicidal feelings toward Matrix. It explains his hatred of Matrix’s daughter too. She has come between them.
I like Commando. It’s one of my husband’s movies, but I appreciate it for what it is. I like the idea of 80s action movies. There are several elements to them that I enjoy, but then there are several elements that I don’t. I like the action. I like how over the top they can be. I could use a little bit more thought put into the script, just a little bit. I’m not asking for a ton. I just want there to be something there. Even if it’s basic, I want it to make some sense. I also really do not like how they treat women. Commando is tipped more into the positive side of my list than the negative.