COMMANDO (1985) - The Perfect Arnie Flick!

By Mark Nobes

Although it's not in the same class as The Terminator, if you're looking for a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fuelled 80s action movie, then look no further than Commando, and as Arnold Schwarzenegger films go, it's just about perfect!
The video clip above features the official movie trailer from the eighties. Arnie was well-suited to his role in the Terminator films, and while Commando didn't receive the same level of critical acclaim (in fact some critics were quite scathing) it's still a fine action movie in which Schwarzenegger is very comfortable in his role as Colonel John Matrix. He's perfectly cast as an 80s action hero, and the film features a well balanced blend of top notch action sequences and humour.
Yes, the plot is a little threadbare, but at least its not convoluted, and Commando is an enjoyable action movie, from the opening scene where Matrix single-handedly takes on a group of terrorists at his mountain retreat, to the final showdown between Matrix and the film's main villain, Bennett (played by Bill Duke), there are many well choreographed moments. This is a film that doesn't take itself too seriously, and features over-the-top action and funny one-liners that have become synonymous with Schwarzenegger's career. The critics may not love Arnie, but his audience certainly does!


John Matrix is a retired Delta Force operative, and in the opening scene we see him living a peaceful life in the mountains with his daughter, Jenny. That is, until a nasty gang of criminals kidnap Jenny (Alyssa Milano) and also kill off his old colleagues from his unit one by one. The gang try to blackmail Matrix into carrying out a political assassination in Val Verde, for a dictator in South America named Arius.
Arnie as John Matrix carrying a rocket launcher

Arnie and his massive rocket launcher

Whilst on a plane trip to Val Verde, Matrix kills his guard and jumps from the aircraft during take off. He then hijacks a flight attendant's car (She's called Cindy and played by Rae Dawn Chong) and demands that she follows one of Arius' men, Sully - queue an action-packed car chase. Matrix manages to locate Sully and proceeds to kill him by dropping him off a cliff - nasty!

After learning where Jenny is being held, Matrix arms himself with military weapons, but before he can set off to rescue her he is arrested by the Police. With help from the Cindy, he manages to escape, and they steal a seaplane and fly to the coast of the island where Arius is hiding. Matrix kills all of his private guards before eventually shooting and killing Arius. He manages to find Jenny in the basement of Arius' villa, but has to deal with one more mercenary before he can rescue her.   

Funny Scenes

All throughout the film there were little moments that had the audience chuckling, and Commando delivers its humour effortlessly. For example, when Arnie casually rips out the front seat from Cindy's under-sized car so that he can fit inside, that's definitely chuckle-inducing. Shortly afterwards, while driving through the city streets, Arnie tells Cindy "A guy I trusted for years wants me dead". She replies "That's understandable, I've only known you for five minutes and I want you dead, too".
One of the best funny scenes is when Arnie is is sat next to his guard on the plane. He quietly knocks out the guy and breaks his neck. After covering him with a blanket and pulling his hat over his face, he tells the hostess "Do me a favour, don't disturb my friend, he's dead tired".
It's not just the one-liners that provide the laughs, though. Take the action-packed fight scenes in the shopping mall, for instance. When Arnie rips out a telephone booth from its mooring, with the terrified guy on the phone still inside it, that's just hilarious!
During Matrix's rampage near the end of the film, he emerges from a shed completely untouched by the many hundreds of bullets that pierced right through it, and then manages to scalp a guy by throwing a lawnmower blade towards him - that's one haircut he'll never forget! 
These are just a few of many fun moments that lighten the mood and show that the film doesn't take itself too seriously.

Best One Liners

Although there are critics who slate Arnie's films for relying too much on one liners, his fans can't get enough of them, and we also love them here at Simply Eighties. So here is a selection if the best one liners from Commando...

"You're a funny guy Sully, that's why I'm going to kill you last".

After Matrix drops Sully from a cliff Cindy asks; "What did you do with Sully?"  He replies: "I let him go".

After Matrix throws a pipe through Bennett, he says "Let off some steam, Bennett".
When Cooke points a gun at matrix he says "F*ck you, arsehole". Amusingly, he discovers that the gun is out of bullets, and so Matrix replies "F*ck YOU, arsehole!"
After killing his guard on the plane, Matrix tells the stewardess "Do me a favour, don't disturb my friend, he's dead tired."
Cindy tells Matrix "You don't even have a car!". Matrix pushes Sully's very battered, overturned car back upright and replies "Now I do".
After Cindy uses a rocket launcher (which is funny in itself), Matrix asks her "Where did you learn to do that?". She replies "I read the instructions".

Simply Eighties Rating:

Arnie's portrayal of John Matrix makes him the perfect action hero. He's someone who is physically intimidating, but also has a kind heart.
Commando is the epitome of an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, because it has everything that we come to expect from his films; bloody gun battles, fantastic fist fights, gratuitous violence, deadpan one-liners, a thin plot, and a ridiculously high body count, oh, and not forgetting that massive rocket launcher!

Overall, this is a gripping, fun and fast-paced action movie which also features a wonderful tropical-style soundtrack with synth steel drums by James Horner, who has also composed the music for over 100 other films and TV shows. 

Without a doubt, this is one of the finest action films from the 80s, and its proof that a movie doesn't always need to tax the brain to be entertaining. Schwarzenegger is on fine form and this isn't a movie that is supposed to be taken too seriously. 

Yes, it's complete macho nonsense and full of cheesy villains (not to mention Arnold's cheesy grin), and Commando has also been criticised for its violence and the lack of intelligent dialogue. But put all that aside for a moment, because this is kind of what you expect from an 80s Arnie film, so just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Arnie as Colonel John Matrix
Commando movie poster