Plot: What’s it about?
Hmmm…it won’t be easy to use an entire paragraph to summarize this movie, since no one seems to let the story get in the way of the action. But since I have such a fondness for the movie, I will march on, and paraphrase the very best I can. Retired Colonel John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is just trying to relax and enjoy his retirement with his daughter (Alyssa Milano), but things aren’t that simple for the ex-commando. He is forced to put down the lemonade and pick up some big guns when his daughter is kidnapped. While the men tell him to stay put for further instructions, Matrix has no such plans, and opts to fight his way to his daughter before it is too late. He has a little under eleven hours to escape from the plane bound for South America, track down the location of his daughter, and rescue her, which will be no easy task. In the process, he manages to make a friend in a flight attendant (Rae Dawn Chong), who is not just easy on the eyes, but also good with a plane. Matrix is tough as nails, but can even he overcome odds like this?
There are two basic types of action movies. You have those which masquerade as serious movies, then you have movies which just give up and use senseless violence to entertain us. Commando is not only part of the second group, it is the definitive entry in it. This movie makes no bones about what it is, simply allowing Arnold to wander about, killing everyone that stands in his way. He throws saw blades, uses a rocket launcher, breaks necks, and even tosses someone off of a cliff, and that’s just the beginning. By the time the film is over, the body count is higher than an entire small country’s population, and Matrix ends up facing and entire army of soldiers. One man, a whole lot of guns, and a will, that’s all this movie needs to make magic happen. The pace is quick and brutal, very little time elapses between action sequences, which is good, because this isn’t the type of movie where you want long pauses. If you want see Arnold do things only Arnold can do, this is the movie to pick up. Anyone looking for an action movie that features great fights, plenty of gunfire, and even an awesome car chase, head on out and throw this disc on the counter, action doesn’t get much better than this. This new Blu-ray release is bare bones, so new real supplements or director’s cut, but the transfer is improved, so an upgrade depends on your priorities.
This film was directed by Mark L. Lester, but I don’t think much motivation was needed, since anyone who was in Arnold’s way just held a gun for a second, then fell to the ground. Although I do think perhaps Arnold needed guidance on where to put the emphasis in his one liners. Lester’s other directorial credits include Armed & Dangerous, Firestarter, and The Base. The only man who could play this role is Arnold, and he does an amazing job of bringing Matrix to life. Sure, not much depth is needed, but who else can take on an army single handedly and seem realistic? Arnold is the man when it comes to action, and his work here is some of his best. The one liners are corny but funny, and I hope he makes another violence soaked movie like this just for nostalgia’s sake. If you liked Commando, make sure to check out Predator, The Running Man, and Last Action Hero, other Arnold classics. Others featured in this movie include Alyssa Milano (Hugo Pool, Tv’s Who’s The Boss), James Olson (The Andromeda Strain), Vernon Wells (The Road Warrior, Space Truckers), Rae Dawn Chong (Hideaway, American Flyers), and Dan Hedaya (A Night At The Roxbury, Dick).
Video: How does it look?
Commando is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer does outperform the standard release, but the jump isn’t as extensive as I had hoped. You can’t fault the transfer however, as the source is to blame and with the added resolution, the source flaws are magnified. The grain in specific is an issue, as the high definition treatment has really brought it to the surface and it can be a distraction. The image never hits those eye popping detail levels either, though as I said, this has more clarity than the standard editions out there. So not the kind of incredible overhaul we want, but if you’re all about the presentation, this is reason enough to dump your previous releases.
Audio: How does it sound?
This movie packs some over the top action scenes, but sadly, this lossless DTS HD 5.1 option doesn’t explode through the speakers like it should. The track is rather limited due to the source, but we’ve seen so many revitalized soundtracks in recent years, its hard to accept that excuse. Some extra work could have done wonders for this track and given the film new audio life, but instead, we have this lackluster presentation. The explosions don’t pop much, the gunshots don’t have much punch, this is just too lifeless of a mix for this kind of movie. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, Spanish and French language tracks, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The lone supplement is the film’s theatrical trailer.