Top 365 Films – #108 – Commando (1985)

Top 365 Films - Commando - Starring Arnold SchwarzeneggerDIRECTED BY: Mark L. Lester

STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, Alyssa Milano, Bill Duke, Bill Paxton, Drew Snyder, Sharon Wyatt, Michael DeLano, Bob Minor, Mike Adams, Carlos Cervantes, Lenny Juliano and Charles Meshack

BUDGET: $10m

EARNED (Worldwide): $57.5m




A retired elite Black Ops Commando launches a one man war against a group of South American criminals who have kidnapped his daughter to blackmail him into starting a revolution and getting an exiled dictator back into power.


Commando centres on retired Black Ops Commando John Matrix, who now resides in a secluded mountain home with his daughter Jenny until one day his home is attacked by a band of mercenaries, among them being an ex-member of his unit who faked his own death named Bennett. With Bennett and co have kidnapped his daughter and use this as leverage to get Matrix to carry out a political assassination, John has other plans and nothing will stop him in getting payback and his daughter back.


You can tell a lot about a person with their film tastes and I’ve yet to find someone with a sense of humour that does not appreciate the straight-laced, tongue-in-cheek action thriller that gave Arnie some of the most quotable puns from the 80’s…Commando. The premise is simple to follow that still covers a genre almost on its own even now (ex-miltary guy must save a child that’s been kidnapped that’s related to him in some way…hello Taken!) but essentially the repay value for this film comes with Schwarzenegger’s line deliveries and some comedic gems of one liners (‘Let off some steam, Bennett.’ and ‘Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.’) to the little character traits, particularly that Matrix can smell/sense people coming at them from a distance to casually just picking up a rocket launcher at your local surplus store, the story is absurd with especially when it ups the ante in the final act’s one man army violent blowout at a villa to save his daughter. The trick with the absurdity of the plot to the deadpan deliveries of the cheesy dialogue to spit out, the director and the cast manage to walk the fine line of not being laughed at but laughed with as the audience should buy into this journey, Mark L. Lester does a fine job directing the film and no other lead actor could handle the material any better at the time than Arnold Schwarzenegger. With memorable lines and scenes you hope you have a memorable villain and my god you do with Bennett for the attire he wears throughout the film alone. I pity anyone that doesn’t smile throughout this film.


FAVOURITE SCENE: The John Matrix and Sully scene where Matrix dangles him over the edge of a huge drop with his ‘weak arm’. It’s a classic really.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘John Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: That’s right, Matrix! You did!
John Matrix: I lied.’

DID YOU KNOW?: In 1986, a sequel was written by Steven E. de Souza, and revised by Frank Darabont, with an eye to having John McTiernan direct. The script was based on the book ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ (1979) by Roderick Thorp, but Schwarzenegger wasn’t interested in reprising the role. The script was then reworked with a new central character, eventually played by Bruce Willis, and became Die Hard (1988).

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