Solidly entertaining, over the top, comic book style spectacle giving superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger the perfect opportunity to play action hero with more levity than usual. Screenwriter Steven E. de Souza injects lots of wit and memorable one liners into the mix while director Mark L. Lester serves up the assorted action scenes with great relish. Granted, it’s absolutely pure nonsense, but irresistible on that level.
Arnold plays John Matrix, retired soldier who’s forced back into action when a vengeance minded former dictator (Dan Hedaya) wants him to murder a sitting president and kidnaps Matrix’s daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in order to make him do it. Fortunately, Matrix manages to slip away from the bad guys, and acquires some unlikely help in the form of feisty stewardess Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), while the clock is ticking the entire time.
“Commando” is appreciably unpretentious stuff that knows what it has to do and does it in style. We get to see Arnold, among other things, rip a phone booth out of a wall, dangle a man over the edge of a cliff with one hand, swing from the roof of a mall using balloons, tear a seat out of a car, eat a Green Beret for breakfast (he’s VERY hungry, don’t you know?), go on an early morning shopping trip at the local surplus store, lug an enormous log around, get a face full of ice cream, drop from a plane into a swamp, and feed a deer. Now, who can read that and pass this up? “Commando” is tons of fun provided the prospective viewer is ready to suspend every bit of their disbelief. The movie just rockets forward with no filler to slow it down, taking place within a limited amount of time, and keeping up an amazing energy level.
Arnold, for the first time here, got to show that he did indeed have a sense of humour about what he did, and is very easy to watch, with a great supporting cast – also including Vernon Wells, as one of the most priceless villains to ever grace the action genre, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, and Bill Duke, with bit appearances by the likes of Bob Minor, Chelsea Field, Branscombe Richmond, and Bill Paxton. James Horner’s music score is awfully familiar, but it does help drive the movie forward, and there are some beautiful moments of extreme violence – including scalping by saw blade and an arm chopped off – to give the presentation some real punch.