Commando is an awful movie.
And one of the most entertaining hours-and-a-half you will ever spend on the sofa.
With a plot that cries out “Standard Action Flick Template” and brimming with excessive, over-the-top and definitively gratuitous violence, Commando is an unintentionally hilarious intended and endless attempts at humor fall lifelessly flat, providing even more laughs at this film you laugh riot. The can only hope is never ever never taken seriously by any of the parties involved.
It’s safe to assume that no one did take any of this seriously. Director Mark L. Lester has made a career of ping-ponging between subversive comedy and operatic action, oftentimes in the same film. His credits include the infamous Roller Boogie, Class of 1984, Showdown in Little Tokyo and his pay-cable effort, The Ex. It is quite likely that Commando was an homage to and parody of the action flick.
Outside of a memorable appearance by a pre-pubescent Alyssa Milano, Commando is best known as the film that launched the Schwarzenegger persona as wisecracking utterer of one-liners like “Let off some steam, Bennett,” delivered by The Arnold after he’s thrown a steam pipe through the aforementioned Bennett. His thick Teutonic accent belying his Austrian birth, Arnie deadpans gems like “You're a funny man, Sully. I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last.” And then, later, the following classic exchange:
Matrix: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?”
Sully: “That's right, Matrix. You did!”
Matrix: “I lied.”
Eventually, Schwarzenegger’s catch-phraseology would betray him, proving his downfall as action hero. By the time Arnie was saying, “You should not drink and bake.” in Raw Deal, audiences were through with Arnold’s little comments. He was soon replaced by Bruce Willis’ yippee-ki-yi-yaying and Mel Gibson’s suicidal tendencies.
But, back in 1985, Schwarzenegger was in top ass-kicking, wisecracking form. His heyday string of action hits following Commando included Predator, The Running Man and Total Recall with the time-honored Arnoldisms, “If it bleeds, we can kill it,” “I don't do requests” and “Consider that a divorce!” (When his action moon was waning, Arnold, of course, turned to his natural calling: high concept comedies like Twins and Kindergarten Cop.)
Whether Commando is a clever lampoon of action flicks, played straight-faced and with nary a wink to the audience, or whether Commando is just a terrible movie is left for you to decide. Regardless, I challenge you to find a movie that is any more balls-out entertaining on whatever level you decide to take it.