John Matrix. Is it even possible to have a cooler ‘80s name than John Matix? The answer is no. That’s just one of the hilarious things that makes Schwarzenegger’s Commando an absolute joy to watch. It’s like watching every ‘80s action movie cliché wrapped up into a single 90-minute package.
Within five minutes, three people have suffered a painful, graphic death. Within 10 minutes, the movie’s first major action sequence kicks in, lasting longer than any previous character development. Amazingly, this brain-dead piece of cinematic cheese manages to keep up this breathless pace for the entire movie… and that’s why it’s fun.
It’s amazing to think the film’s only real character development occurs during the opening credits without a word of dialogue, as Arnold sits down to an ice cream cone with his daughter (played by a very young Alyssa Milano). From there, it’s a guns blazing massacre set to a James Horner score that sounds like it was the inspiration for the Transporter 2 theme.
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite one-liner. Every scene contains at least one worth quoting, although “Let off some steam” may be a show stealer. The hideous, terrible, illogical, and flat out idiotic story may last a total of 15 minutes. Everything else is action in a style long forgotten.
Commando doesn’t even have time for logic. In Commando’s world, cops don’t handcuff arrested criminals, despite crashing a bulldozer through a weapons store. Car front bumpers magically reattach themselves in the middle of a high-speed chase. Bullets only hurt bad guys. Saw blades make for an effective means of scalping an enemy. Oh, and it’s a movie where a man is named John Matrix.
Commando isn’t even close to being a good movie, but it’s an enormously entertaining one. Steven E. de Souza had a hand in the story, and it’s hardly a surprise given his resume which includes clunkers like Street Fighter, Beverly Hills Cop III, and K-9000 (don’t ask). Thankfully, Commando relishes its awfulness to create a wildly cheeky action movie that turns out to be an ‘80s classic.
While certainly not a great looking movie, Commando fares so-so on Blu-ray. It’s a MPEG-2 transfer with decent if faded color, black levels that never seem deep enough, and a soft look that never resolves itself. There’s some noticeable edge enhancement at times, although its application is spotty. Flesh tones are slightly off, though not to the point where it’s distracting.
There are shots of legitimate detail, especially the final few close-ups of Arnold. Print damage is minor. While hardly worth an upgrade, it’s the best this one has ever looked at home.
The DTS-HD mix is likewise unimpressive, albeit serviceable. There is some surround work during the action scenes, although it’s obviously false and forced. The high end is strained, and gunfire is flat. Bass sounds artificial, much like the surrounds. The music is cranked up when compared to the (limited) dialogue. All in all, it’s not bad for a movie pushing 25 years old.
Despite a director’s cut loaded with extras released less than a year before this Blu-ray, this hi-def release offers nothing. There’s D-Box support and a few trailers. It’s inexcusable.