The Curator of Schlock #275 by Jeff Shuster
I ain’t watching another Van Damme movie!
I’m sorry. I had Black Water with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren all cued for my next viewing.
And then I thought, “No.”
We’re going to take a breather from Van Damme movies for a bit. I need to remind myself why I was ever a fan of action movies to begin with. Time to dust off the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Commando.
1985’s Commando from director Mark Lester is the quintessential 80s action movie.
What’s the movie about? Arnold Schwarzenegger kills the bad guys. That’s it.
Okay. Schwarzenegger plays John Matrix, a retired Colonel from the Special Forces who lives a secluded life in the mountains of California with his young daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano). His idyllic life comes to a halt when Major General Franklin Kirby shows up at his place to warn Matrix that former members of his team have been assassinated. Kirby leaves a couple of soldiers behind to protect Matrix while he goes off to investigate who’s behind the assassinations.
It doesn’t take long for the mysterious bad guys to show up on John Matrix’s doorstep. They kill the soldiers Kirby left behind, kidnap his daughter, and threaten her life if Matrix doesn’t cooperate. Now, if was a thriller starring Harrison Ford or John Travolta, they’d say something like “If you harm one hair on my daughter’s head, I’ll kill you.” Not Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first bad guy that tries using Matrix’s daughter against him get a bullet in his skull.
This is the first death of many.
Eventually, it’s revealed that a former member of Matrix’s team, Bennett (Vernon Wells) is working for a former South American dictator that Matrix helped remove from power. He wants Matrix to get close to the democratically elected President of Val Verde and assassinate him. If Matrix doesn’t do this, Jenny will be returned to him in pieces.
One of the dictator’s goons boards an airliner with Matrix to ensure his arrival in Val Verde and make sure Matrix doesn’t try any funny stuff, funny stuff like snapping the goon’s neck while the stewardess is informing passengers about dinner and the in-flight movie. During takeoff, Matrix jumps from the plane into a swamp. From there, he follows an impish goon named Sully played by David Patrick Kelly, the dude who played the snake-man in Dreamscape. After seeing Sully harass a stewardess named Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), Matrix decides to coerce Cindy into helping him lure Sully to him in local shopping mall.
And then more violence happens. Cindy informs mall security about this crazy guy with bulging biceps and Matrix starts tossing security guards around like rag dolls. Sully notices Matrix never got on the plane, runs to a telephone booth to inform his boss, but Matrix rips the phone booth from the floor and throws it with Sully still inside.
Sully escapes, a car chase ensues, and Matrix drops Sully off a cliff once he gets the information he needs. Cindy decides to keep helping him rather running away for dear life. Eventually, through a series of misadventures, they make their way to the former dictator’s island stronghold, and Matrix manages to take out an army all by himself with the use of machine guns, rocket launchers, and garden tools he finds in a lawn shed.
Matrix shoots the dictator, throws a water pipe into Bennett’s chest, rescues his daughter, and flies off into the sunset with the sexy stewardess. I just spoiled the movie for you, but trust me, Commando is about the journey more than the destination.
I feel better know.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.
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