Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Commando (1985 film)

Directed by Mark L. Lester and screenplay by Steven E. de Souza from a story by de Souza, Joseph Loeb III, and Matthew Weisman, Commando is the story of a former Delta Force commando who is forced by a South American dictator to kill a leader or else the commando’s daughter is killed forcing the man to take action. The film is a simple story that revolves around a commando who is being pushed into doing something he doesn’t want to do while knowing that his daughter’s life is on the line. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Vernon Wells, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, Alyssa Milano, Bill Duke, and Dan Hedaya. Commando is an ass-kicking and exciting film from Mark L. Lester.

When a man is being forced to kill a political leader by a dictator in the hopes that he can save his daughter’s life knowing that she’ll still be killed if he does the deed. It’s a dichotomy that is uneasy but if that commando is John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger), then that dictator is going to need a lot of body bags. It’s a film that manages to be very simple in its premise where this former commando is dealing with old foes who definitely have a grudge towards him all because Matrix is a man that stands for what is right as the only thing he has in the world is his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). Knowing that Jenny is likely to be killed, Matrix uses his skills as a commando to do whatever it takes to save her with the help of a flight attendant named Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) who understands the severity of the situation. It’s a film that manages to do so much with a simple story while the script itself does have some funny one-liners and puns that Matrix says like “I eat Green Berets for breakfast”.

Mark L. Lester’s direction is quite simple though it starts off in a very dark way when some individuals are being killed as it is a total contrast to the peace and tranquility that Matrix is having with his daughter. Yet, the film would take a dark turn once Matrix is in danger as Lester’s usage of close-ups and medium shots come into play. Much of the film is shot in California where it would be set in different places in South America as it maintains something that feels like it’s set in another world. Especially in the film’s climax where Matrix arrives at the home of the dictator Arius (Dan Hedaya) where it becomes one of the film’s most violent moments. Some of which is very ridiculous but Lester knows it’s ridiculous which makes it so fun to watch. Especially in the way Matrix kills soldiers as if he is this one-man army as Lester adds a lot of humor to some of the violence no matter how gruesome it is. Overall, Lester creates an exhilarating and explosive film about a commando trying to save his daughter from the bad guys.

Cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti does excellent work with the cinematography from some of the daytime lighting schemes in the Californian mountains to the usage of lights for the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editors Glenn Farr, Mark Goldblatt, and John F. Link do amazing work with the editing from the opening credits montage to the stylistic cuts in the film‘s action sequences including its bloody climax. Production designer John Vallone and set decorator Robert Gould does nice work with the film‘s set design from the home of Arius to the cabin home that Matrix lived in at the Californian mountains. Sound mixer Donald F. Johnson does terrific work with the sound to capture the intensity of the fights and the gunplay that occurs. The film’s music by James Horner is wonderful for its mixture of brooding electronics with calypso percussions and orchestral flourishes to play into the air of suspense and action.

The casting by Jackie Burch is amazing as it features notable small roles from Bill Paxton as naval interceptor, Bill Duke as a former Green Beret that works for Arius in Cooke, David Patrick Kelly as an associate in Arius in Sully, and James Olson as Matrix’ former superior General Kirby who would inform Matrix about some mysterious occurrences involving Arius. Alyssa Milano is wonderful as Matrix’s daughter Jenny as this young girl dealing with being kidnapped as she manages to talk some shit towards Arius. Vernon Wells is excellent as Arius’ henchman Bennett who was an old ally of Matrix who despises him as he wants Matrix dead.

Dan Hedaya is fantastic as Arius as this dictator who has a grudge towards Matrix for usurping him as he wants him to kill the man who had replaced him in his old country as a form of torture. Rae Dawn Chong is superb as Cindy as this flight attendant who joins the ride by accident as she helps Matrix do what is right while being funny and be crafty with a bazooka. Finally, there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger in a phenomenal performance as John Matrix as a former commando that is being pushed to the breaking point about what he’s asked to do only to refuse in an attempt to save his daughter. It’s a performance that has Schwarzenegger be a total badass as well as saying some funny puns and one-liners as it’s one of Schwarzenegger’s quintessential performances.

Commando is a remarkable film from Mark L. Lester that features an incredible performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s a film that isn’t just an entertaining action movie but one that does what it needed to be and more while not being afraid in making itself look ridiculous which adds to the film’s unique approach to humor. While Commando is a spectacular film from Mark L. Lester, there is a lesson to all of this. It’s one thing to kidnap a young girl and be forced to carry out an assassination. If that girl happens to Alyssa Milano and her father is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then Jabroni, you’re about to be fucked.

© thevoid99 2015


Wendell Ottley said...

Now THIS - 80s action flicks - I'm well-versed in. Love this movie. Its just bonkers right from the start. Nothing like watching Arnie stand in plain sight of people shooting at him, not getting hit, and mowing them down by the dozens. And the one liberal here are phenomenal. I'm getting giddy just thinking about this movie. I'll have to stop here so I can let off some steam. Boom (drops mic).

Anonymous said...

LOL, I have never even heard of this (WTF) but now I really want to see this, and I usually avoid all things Ah-nuld.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-I fucking love this film. I will never get tired of it because it's so fun to watch. "Fuck you asshole... Fuck You... Asshole!!!" If it wasn't for Arnold, many of these immigrants who come to America probably wouldn't learn to speak English because of him.

@Fisti-U never avoid anything Arnold does. Arnold Schwarzenegger is cinema. Everything from Conan the Barbarian to True Lies represents the Golden Age of Action Cinema.