This is the cream of the crop. The league of Total Recall, The Running Man, and Predator is powerful, but if you want it melted down and remade as one — you’d get Commando. It is the purest distillation of 80s Arnold action. He brutalizes people and hits ‘em with the one liner. It’s a formula you always see, but it’s done here without the cruelty of Recall and the distracting flair of Running. It’s just him, playing himself, or his persona, and he has big guns and he shoots a lot of people.
Too much has already been said about this movie, so I’d defer to any one source: The Commando Podcast, or the entirety of Fast Karate for the Gentleman, once purported as a podcast exclusively ‘about’ Commando.
I will say, of myself, that while Keanu Reeves always pops up in this way now and again, I can’t lie — Arnold Schwarzenegger is my favorite actor of all time. I think he’s a pretty good actor beyond the Terminator and True Lies (world-class direction doesn’t hurt), but it’s more than that. Good actors are ten a penny. Arnold brings a unique presence, a larger-than-life bravado and complete abandon for self-seriousness. To put it to words is a flailing exercise. It must be experienced.
If somehow you’ve never seen a Schwarzenegger movie — start with The Terminator, because Commando bases its John Matrix off of the Arnold that Hollywood helped create. He says, “I’ll be back,” in Commando (and The Running Man, among others), and we all understand. Commando is a blowup action movie with a wink and a nod, but when he throws a steampipe through Bennet and tells him to let off some steam — ironic or not, that is all business.