Commando was a classic, make no mistake. Did it matter that this 1985 movie had a great dumb lump of a plot â€” matched only by its great dumb lump of a lead actor in Arnold Schwarzenegger? Hell no! Could we forgive ex-Special Forces operative John Matrix his homicidal tendencies and monosyllabic deliveries? What’s to forgive? If your daughter was kidnapped by a fat psychotic Australian Freddie Mercury impersonator you’d be pissed enough to mow down a private army’s myriad minions in one of the most OTT movie climaxes ever, having delivered arguably the worst/best epitaph one-liners known to cinema (Four words: “I let him go”). Yes, Commando is king. End of.
What’s more, its title sequence was dramatic tension you could cut with a cleaver, made montage. A wife-beater-wearing Arnie pads along the forest floor like he’s stalking an animal, wielding… a chainsaw. But wait, after a couple of lingering biceps shots, we see that slung over this badass’s shoulder is a tree trunk… which he proceeds to chop up with an axe, this being his homestead. Then a shadow appears behind him, and he sees the intruder reflected in his blade. This is man of both finely honed senses and brawn… But is he going to hack the intruder to pieces? No, he’s going to pick her up and hug her â€” because it’s his daughter!
Credits roll, and with them the most implausible paternal relationship in cinematic history unfolds in images of ice cream eating fun, dad training daughter in martial arts, fishing in mountain streams… and hand-feeding a deer… A domestic bliss… of sorts… And all to an eclectic Eighties soundtrack that goes from edgy synths and steel drums to pan pipes to incongruously romantic strings and back again. It’s an idyll, kids, but trouble’s afoot â€” and Arnie’s about to blow up trouble with a rocket launcher! Yes!