Broad action flick or subtle commentary on supressed homosexuality… or BOTH?
by Joe Pudas
One of the movies that regularly divides your trusty ATA bloggers is the 1985 Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando. Directed by Mark L. Lester, Commando is a pure, wholly unpretentious 90-minute blast of adrenaline, ultraviolence, and dumbass wisecracks. It is, in other words, one of the seminal action films of the 80s. Schwarzenegger’s John Matrix would make Rambo piss in his pants.
I wanted to do an analysis/appreciation piece on it, since it is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but Alex Jackson of Film Freak Central
already beat me to it. The following article delves deeper into Commando
than any other I’ve encountered, and after reading it, you’ll immediately want to re-watch the film (if you’re like me, that is). Enjoy!
SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. I first saw Mark L. Lester’s Commando as a young boy and even then I was rather surprised that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s eponymous hero, John Matrix, didn’t get together with his reluctant sidekick, Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong). She’s set up to be the love interest, but the filmmakers never pull the trigger. I was similarly baffled by the saccharine relationship between Matrix and his daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano). In my youthful naivety, I frankly thought this was too hokey for an R-rated movie, i.e., a movie intended for grown-ups. What audience of adults would buy into this? And I couldn’t believe that the film would be about her kidnapping and Matrix tracking down and rescuing her. It’s just the hero invading the castle and saving the damsel-in-distress? Hell, Star Warswasn’t that basic. There had to be some socio-political nuance to the situation I simply wasn’t old enough to grasp.