Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Commando. A-

Commando seems to be a nearly perfect piece of action filmmaking, but would it be considered so if Schwarzenegger wasn't in the lead? He doesn't elevate the material, but merely enhances it. This movie doesn't just cover the basics of macho excellence, but exceeds them through the complete watchability of Schwarzenegger's great performance. I enjoyed Commando more than any other of his films save Terminator 2. Not only is it built for the larger than life persona and physique of Schwarzenegger, but also for the other side of the mythic qualities of his roles: his sense of obligation. There's often moral questions at stake in the roles he chooses, as well as an underlying tender and very slight sentimentality. In Commando he plays a former Colonel named Matrix (an ideal name for him, isn't it?), whose daughter is kidnapped by vicious men who will give her back only upon his assassinating the president in Val Verde (a fictional country, I believe). In a riveting sequence, Matrix escapes from the plane to Val Verde by breaking the neck of his captor and jumping from the bottom of the plane into a swamp just as the aircraft is taking off. We're thinking, wow, this guy's awesome, and then it just keeps getting better. After an airport action scene rife with stunts and incredibly dangerous use of firearms, Matrix begins to piece together locations that lead him to his daughter. My main complaint with the movie is the female lead character, played by Rae Dawn Chong, whose performance is terrible even for an 80's action flick. Her role in the movie is strange because she makes a terrible sidekick for Matrix and doesn't really show signs that she's in love with him until the end. Aside from that, and the villain Bennett's overdose of confidence during a final duel, I loved the film. People say that Die Hard started a whole new genre of action moviemaking, but I'd say Commando deserves that credit. Not to mention it's a better movie.

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