John, Jenny, and the security detail watch General Kirby’s helicopter take off.
Retired military super-soldier John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is enjoying an idyllic life with his daughter Jenny (13-year-old Alyssa Milano) in the mountains, feeding fawns, fishing, and going into town for ice cream. One such day, Matrix’s former commander, Gen. Kirby, shows up. He tells Matrix that the other members of his old team are being killed. Matrix has many enemies, so Kirby is providing a security detail until this is sorted out. Seconds after Kirby leaves, the detail is taken out. While Matrix takes out some of the bad guys, they kidnap Jenny. Matrix chases after them, racing down the mountain in a pickup truck, but misses and crashes. When he regains consciousness, he discovers his captors: Arius (Dan Hedaya, using maybe a Columbian accent) and former-team-member-turned-evil Bennett (Vernon Wells). Arius has a proposal for Matrix. Matrix will meet with the Central American president, an old buddy he helped during a former mission, and then assassinate him, allowing Arius to seize power. They already have a plane ticket for him, and they’ll escort him to the airport. If he doesn’t help, they’ll kill Jenny.
John covers Jenny to protect her from the attack by Arius’ men.
At the airport, he’s escorted onto the plane. First chance, Matrix kills the escort and hides him under a blanket and hat, and gets off the plane. The flight arrives in a little under 11 hours. That’s how long Matrix has to find out where his daughter is and rescue her. He follows bad guy Sully (David Patrick Kelly). He’s hitting on flight attendant Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), who’s repulsed. After she tells him to take a hike, Matrix forces her to help him. He tells Cindy his story and has her follow Sully to the mall. The plan: she’ll seduce him and bring him to Matrix, at which point he’ll get the answers he needs. It backfires when instead she goes to the cops. A fight breaks out. While Matrix fights mall cops, Sully panics in front of Cindy, verifying Matrix’s story. Matrix escapes with Cindy, and the two chase Sully. They catch up and Matrix dangles Sully over a cliff, leaning that he’s meeting with Cooke (Bill Duke), whom we saw earlier killing the former team members. With Sully dispatched, he next fights and kills Cooke. Cooke had coordinates on him for Val Verdes. Cindy explains she can fly them there. But first, some arsenal! They break into a military supply store and he takes everything: big guns, bullets, explosives, and a bazooka. (A police squad answering the store alarm doesn’t faze Matrix one bit.)
Arius and Bennett have kidnapped Jenny and are holding her in their island mansion.
The two arrive at the island. Matrix gets into a lifeboat in a speedo with his weapons, and when he’s on land puts on some camouflage and streaks black grease over him, signaling that Hell’s about to be unleashed. Meanwhile, captive Jenny escapes, pursued by the clearly insane Bennett. Before he can catch up to her, buildings start exploding. People are plowed down. Arius is killed. Matrix finds Bennett, but Bennett has found Jenny. Matrix talks him into letting Jenny go, and they fight mano-a-mano. It’s tense, but Matrix gets the upper hand and dispatches Bennett, impaling him on a steam pipe. “Let off some steam, Bennett!” Outside, Cindy has successfully gotten in touch with Kirby. With Jenny, Matrix emerges as Kirby and his men arrive way too late to do anything. Matrix takes off with Jenny and Cindy, affirming he’ll do another mission ever again.
The bad guys should have never messed with Arnold.
Commando is well-made, over-the-top 80s action fun, and a classic of its genre. Every moment is big. Schwarzenegger is filmed as a giant. James Horner’s score is rousing. The film never slows and things “blow up good.” It is everything an action film should be, free of pretension. Its even superior to Rambo: First Blood, part II, the penultimate 80s action film. Commando only hints at relevance, has no overt politics and doesn’t have villains we know are fake (Soviet controlled Vietnamese!) making it difficult for us to suspend our disbelief. It is also completely ridiculous. Hedaya is equally unconvincing and ultimately forgettable. Wells is absurd with his mesh top, fingerless gloves, mustache and big knife. Schwarzenegger in a speedo for speedo’s sake is a bit much. (Commando is regarded as being “the gayest film ever made” by Ruthless Reviews for those reasons). Chong is annoying, clueless and useless, the Tails to Arnie’s Sonic the Hedgehog. There are certainly much worst action films out there, like Schwarzenegger’s Raw Deal, but as far as these films go, this is a quality flick.
After destroying the enemy base and rescuing Jenny, John carries her to their seaplane.
Jenny tries to hide from Arius’ men.
Alyssa Milano, in her role as Jenny, wears pink high top chucks throughout the film.
Jenny decides to get up and find a way to escape from Ariel’s mansion.
Jenny, held captive and despairing, gets up and examines the room she’s being kept in, considering a way out. Finding nothing, she sits again. It’s padding, but it’s neat that she’s not just a prop, but an actual thinking character. Later, she gets up again and loosens some boards in the wall to make her escape. Her pink high tops undoubtedly giving her a foot up.
Jenny begins to pry apart the boards preventing her escspe.
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