Commando (film)

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Cindy: You steal my car, you rip the seat out, you kidnap me, you ask me to help you find your daughter, which I very kindly do, and then you get me involved in a shoot out where people are dying and there's blood spurting all over the place, and then I watch you rip a phone booth out of a wall, swing from the ceiling like Tarzan, and then there's a cop that's going to shoot you and I save you and they start chasing me! Are you going to tell me what's going on or what?!
Matrix: No.

Possibly the most awesome film Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made, and certainly the most homoerotic. Commando tells the story of John Matrix (Arnie), a retired special forces colonel whose daughter is kidnapped. To get her back he must, like, kill a prime minister or something? But thankfully he decides to ignore these demands and just kills them all instead.

Best known for Schwarzenegger displaying his distinctive tongue-in-cheek humor for this kind of over-the-top action film.

Not to be confused with the long-running British Comic Book Commando, which is a little more sedate in its overall narrative. Does not involve Going Commando, either.


Tropes used in Commando (film) include:
  • Awesome McCoolname: John Matrix.
  • Badass: John Matrix, to absolutely ridiculous levels.
    • Bennett deserves mention too, for not only being the only person in the film to put up a decent fight against Matrix, but for getting him on the ropes in their final battle (though Matrix was wounded before that fight started).
  • Badass Boast: From Cook to Matrix, answered with Narm and Lampshaded by Cindy:

Cook: This Green Beret's going to kick your big ass.
Matrix: I eat Green Berets for breakfast! And right now I'm very hungry!
Cindy: I can't believe this macho bullshit!

    • Also:

Arius: Mr. Bennett, my soldiers are patriots.
Bennett: Your soldiers are nothing. Matrix and I can kill every single one of them in the blink of an eye. Remember that.

  • Banana Republic: Val Verde.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Early on, Matrix is trying to chase some bad guys but the power to his truck is cut, so he pushes it and drives it down a hill. Then there's the plane escape.
    • Charles Atlas Superpower: Colonels must receive some special training if Matrix is any indication.
      • Ripping a car seat out of the car with his bare hands.
      • Killing two bad guys with one bullet. Wow.
      • A more subtle one: Matrix is impeded by a padlock and chains, so he just rips them off.
      • Killing a group of heavily armed soldiers with spare gardening and hardware tools found in a shed.
  • Bond One-Liner: Schwarzenegger has always been good at these, but Commando contains some of his greatest efforts.
    • After killing a man on a plane and disguising him as if he's asleep, he turns to a stewardess and says: "Please don't disturb my friend. He's dead tired."
    • After dropping Sully off a cliff, and then being asked where he's gone: "I let him go."
    • After throwing a length of pipe clean through Bennett and into a boiler, releasing a jet of steam: "Let off some steam, Bennett."
    • And, technically pre-mortem: "You know I said I would Kill You Last? I Lied."
  • Bottomless Magazines: The belt of ammo hanging from Matrix's M60 gets longer and longer with each cut.
    • Averted, though, with the rocket launcher, which fires exactly four times over the course of the film before Matrix discards it.
  • Brand X: At the airport, the Matrix's flight to Val Verde is with an airline simply called "Western." Another plane on the runway after Matrix jumps from the plane during takeoff is labeled "Eastern."
  • Catch Phrase: It's an Arnie film. "I'll be back."
  • Chewing the Scenery: Vernon Wells, the actor who plays Bennett, practically uses the climactic knife fight as chewing gum! "You're a dead man John! A dead man!" Even his understated lines like "I told them I'd do it for free" chew the scenery.
  • Colonel Badass: And how.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: dozens, if not hundreds of soldiers, and not one of them can take a decent aimed shot against the guy standing in the middle of a wide open garden shooting at them with a machine gun that should be braced on its bipod in order to fire accurately - no problem for Matrix. The wussy boss bad guy takes several minutes of dodging and fire-trading before he makes the kill. The Dragon nearly kills Matrix himself. Oh, and by the end of the film, Matrix's apparently killed everybody on the island.
  • Disney Villain Death: Sully
  • Damsel in Distress: Jenny, but hardly a hopeless example of the trope. Using her own resourcefulness she's able to free herself from her confinement -- if not, Bennett would have cut her throat before Matrix even got near her.
  • The Dragon: Bennett.
    • Dragon Their Feet: The Big Bad is Arius, not Bennett. He got his own dose of buckshot before Matrix deal with Bennett though.
    • Dragon-in-Chief: As quoted above, Bennett claims (correctly) that he's a bigger threat to John than Arius' and his army.
  • Elite Mooks: Cooke boasts about being a former Green Beret. Matrix is unimpressed.
  • Expy: General Kirby is basically Colonel Trautman. Matrix himself is basically a tongue-in-cheek version of Rambo.
  • Faking the Dead: Bennett is apparently blown up in his boat by Cooke in the pre-title sequence, but it's only to mislead Kirby.
  • Follow That Car!:

Matrix: Follow him.
Cindy: Oh, I knew you were going to say that...

  • Groin Attack: A mook catches an axe between the legs in the toolshed scene.
  • Harmless Voltage: During the climatic fight, Matrix throws Bennett into a high voltage generator, which sparks and goes haywire as our victim screams like a little girl. About eight seconds later, however, Bennett immediately bounces back in the fight and is arguably fighting better than he did before the electrocution.
  • Heroic Neutral: Matrix just wants to be left alone with his daughter, and turns down the Army's offer at the end of the film to do just that.
    • He kept his word too: There never was a sequel.
  • High Altitude Interrogation: Matrix dangles Sully above a cliff to make him talk. And then...

Matrix: "Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: "That's right Matrix! You did!"
Matrix: "I Lied." (Drops Sully)

    • This one is actually a lot more cold-blooded. While Sully made it perfectly clear that he would be willing to talk, Matrix had already found the necessary Plot Coupon in his coat pocket before holding him over the cliff's edge. He just brought him there solely to let him go.
      • Maybe Matrix really hated that "more time with your daughter" crack Sully made at the airport?
  • I Have Your Daughter: Subverted in that when the bad guys kidnap Matrix's daughter to blackmail him into working for them, he doesn't even pretend to play along; he ignores their demands and just kills them all.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: spoilers.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: With an army that shoots like that, no wonder Matrix could take on 87 men and still win.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The other reason Matrix could take on the army presented and win.
  • Invincible Hero: Can take on hundreds of mooks without getting hit once.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Happens during the brawl between Matrix and Cooke.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns / Had the Silly Thing In Reverse: After Matrix gets locked up in a police van, Cindy tries to free him with a quad-barrelled missile launcher. Unfortunately she points the wrong end at the target and blows up the shops behind her. Remember to read which end is the front when handling heavy weapons such as missile launchers.
  • Kill You Last: "You're a funny guy, Sully. I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last."
    • He lied.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Complete with enough weaponry to kill a small army. And I'm not talking hypothetically here.
    • Interestingly, Matrix puts all the equipment on, including his vest and then puts camo paint on his arms and face. Later, he loses the vest and now he has camo paint on his manly chest. Which means, after the Lock and Load Montage, he must have taken all the equipment off again to paint it on, as he was obviously planning to lose his shirt later.
  • Mandatory Unretirement
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Yes, Bennett of all people has an actor who is a very nice person off camera, as Arnie himself recalls.
  • Mook Horror Show, especially the toolshed sequence.
  • More Dakka: Most of the movie revolves around dakka exchange between fighting parties: trimming bushes with machine gun fire, entire squad dakka-venting the barn with The Ahnold inside, et cetera, et cetera.
  • Nice Job Guiding Us Hero
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Justified (or handwaved, at any rate) by mentioning early in the film that Matrix hails from East Germany.
  • One-Man Army: Hoo, boy, is Matrix ever.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Subverted. When Matrix is shot in the shoulder by Bennett, his right arm is mostly out of the fight, he even comments on it and can't use it for much aside for holding impromptu shields and weapons, seen here from 4:10 to 6:43. It seems fine by the end though.
    • Played completely straight throughout with Matrix's leg and abdomen wounds, suffered after a being a little to close to a live grenade.
  • Papa Wolf: You harmed his little girl? You're DOOMED.
  • Plot Coupon: After leaping from the plane to Val Verde, a good portion of the film's second act involves Matrix having to find items that clue him in to the next location. The most egregious instance of this is probably after Cooke is killed without him revealing to Matrix any relevant information, requiring Matrix and Cindy to search his car until they find a helpful clue.
  • Police Are Useless: The cops who arrest Matrix at the army surplus store don't even bother to put him in handcuffs, and they somehow fail to notice Cindy on the store grounds. They also dismiss Matrix's requests to get in touch with Gen. Kirby as crazy talk, and when Cindy pulls up alongside the police paddy wagon in a Cadillac convertible with a ton of stolen military-grade weapons in the back seat, a cop just assumes that she's a prostitute.
  • Race Against the Clock: After escaping the plane, Matrix has 11 hours to wrap things up before it lands and his escape is discovered.
  • Rash Equilibrium: Arius hints that Jenny's going to get killed (or worse) no matter what Matrix decides to do (though he doesn't count on Matrix killing every one of his men).
  • Rated "M" for Manly: Boy howdy. This movie will impregnate any unprotected female viewers. And a few male ones, too.
  • Redshirt Army: General Kirby leaves behind two soldiers to protect Matrix and his daughter, describing them as "real good, but not as good as you". Both men are killed as soon as he flies off.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: After Matrix gets locked up in a police van, Rae Dawn Chong tries to free him with a quad-barreled missile launcher. Unfortunately she points the wrong end at the target and blows up the shops behind her.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: The movie of the trope.
  • Shout-Out: At least three of Arnie's lines are things he said in The Terminator. His one-word answer, "Wrong," before blasting away his first mook, his Catch Phrase "I'll be back" (of course), and the line, "Fuck you, asshole!" This was his first big movie after The Terminator and his first big movie with more than five lines.
  • Show Some Leg: Matrix has Chong pretend to be a hooker in Sully's hotel room. Doesn't quite work as Cooke is still wary, but he still misses Matrix hiding behind the door until the "Hey You!" Haymaker.
  • Shur Fine Guns: When Cook is knocked into the next room while fighting Matrix, he fires his last two rounds while he's tumbling backwards, resulting in the exchange in the Narm entry.
  • Soft Glass: Played with. Arnold plays this straight, but his friend who ran the car dealership is badly cut when he's driven through a window. It's possible the shards killed him, that or being hit by the car, as seen here from 3:00 to 3:16.
  • Soft Water: About three feet of it cushions Matrix's fall after he jumps from an airplane's landing gear.
  • Stun Guns: "Tranquilizers. I wanted to use the real thing!"
  • Super Senses: Matrix can smell 'em coming.
  • Technology Marches On: Matrix's daughter would have been dead within seconds of him being spotted by Sully at the mall if this film was set in the late 1990s...
    • Not to mention Matrix could've called General Kirby on a cell once he got off the plane.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Lampshanded by Cindy with the lines "Enough of this macho bullshit" and "these guys eat too much red meat!"
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Arnold convinces Bennett to let go of Jenny by playing to his inner Knife Nut. Since Bennett can't resist the possibility of sticking his knife in Arnold, it works.
  • Title Drop: 'Commando' is Matrix's radio callsign.
  • Trope Codifier: This is the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Arnold does this to Sully.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: It actually proves useful. Matrix is in a gun fight with Arius, and the two take turns shooting at each other and taking cover. After a few rounds of this, Matrix rolls out from his cover as Arius tries to shoot him, only for Matrix to shoot Arius at the end of the roll.
  • What Could Have Been: This was originally offered to John McTiernan of Predator and Die Hard fame. Now watch the first half hour of Predator and ask... which is more awesome?
    • Die Hard was originally intended to be a sequel to Commando.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: EVERYTHING, from walking through a mall to getting into an airplane.
    • And getting off of one.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Completely averted. Matrix has no problem killing someone, be it a random henchman or a main villain.
  • Zerg Rush: How many security guards does that mall have?
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: A handsome Val Verdan in a fur-lined jacket with a Goatee of Evil is introduced in a manner that indicates he's The Dragon, taking part in the opening assasinations and shooting one of Kirby's redshirts. He stays behind to deliver the I Have Your Daughter ultimatum... until Matrix blows him away with a shotgun.