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“Commando” by Mark L. Lester Essay (Movie Review)


Chances are, you’ve heard about a movie called Commando, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by Mark L. Lester, because it is, in my view, the greatest classical movie of all time.

Released in 1985, the film to a large extent exemplifies the stereotypical 1980’s action movie, which packaged top-of-the-range violence, sharp and humorous one liners, and a simple and easy to follow plot concerning some sort of mercenary activity, kidnapping or military affair (Stevens para. 1).

Commando’s cheesy plot, sharp one liner dialogue, and wild action, in my view, makes the film a timeless classic that is bound to continue making inroads in the entertainment industry as we progress deeper into the 21st century.

Apart from Schwarzenegger, who acts as John Matrix, the other members of the main cast include Alyssa Milano (Jenny Matrix), Dan Hedaya (Arius), Vernon Wells (Benett), Rae Dawn Chong (Cindy), Bill Duke (Cooke), David Patrick Kelly (Sully), and James Olson (Major General Franklin Kirby).

The movie’s protagonists include John matrix, Jenny Matrix, Cindy and General Kirby, while the antagonists’ include Arius, Bennett, Cooke and Sully (Lester para. 5-12).

Overall, it is these characters that will continue to reverberate across major movie screens and theaters across the world as they showcase their well-groomed talents in this mouth-watering action film directed by Lester and produced by another movie great – Joel Silver.

Written by Steven E. de Souza, Commando’s story develops along a continuum that is well understood by avid television or movie watchers who take time to watch other classical action movies, that is, one man killing machine against a bunch of bad guys who will stop at nothing to perpetuate their own selfish interests.

In Summary, the story is as follows: Retired Special Forces Operative Colonel John Matrix and his daughter Jenny live happily in a secluded mountainous region, but one day General Franklin Kirby come calling to warn Matrix of a group of mercenaries that have been killing retired military personnel who used to work with Matrix.

What Kirby doesn’t know is that the mercenaries have been trailing them, and even faked the death of retired military man, Benett, so that they could lay their hands on Matrix, who is wanted by the head of the mercenary group, Arius, to overthrow a seating president (Lester para. 12).

The mercenaries kill Kirby’s men and then hijack Matrix’ daughter, Jenny, to force him to play along, but what follows is a specter of violence and intelligent one-liners that provides an unforgettable experience to movie viewers.

Matrix is tranquilized before being taken to Arius, who instructs him that he must travel to Val Verde and unseat the serving president if he wants to be reunited with his daughter.

Matrix lazily agrees though he uses his popular and decisive one-liners to warn Bennett, his fellow military compatriot, that ‘he will be back’ (Stevens para. 2). It is imperative to note that these one-liners add a unique glow to the movie, while elevating the viewer’s suspense to heart-throbbing levels.

What follows is a form of violence and raw firepower that few films of contemporary times have been able to match. Matrix engages in a murderous exercise, wiping all the bad guys as he forces his way to find his loving daughter.

It is at this juncture when he runs into an off-duty air hostess, Cindy, who reluctantly promises to assist Matrix find his daughter upon the use of yet another one-liner – “trust me.” Matrix engages in a one-man show, kills all the bad guys serving in Arius’ private army before killing Arius in a gun fight.

The climax pits two ex-military men who were friends turned enemies – Matrix and Benett. After a prolonged and enticing fight, Matrix savagely kills Benett and rescues his daughter Jenny.

Some critics, as noted in various quarters, may find such a plot simplistic and overly repulsive, thus shun this masterpiece and move on (Stevens para. 2). But upon critical analysis of the movie, viewers will notice that its theme, along with its cheesiness, soundtrack and predictability, are important attributes that have made it withstand the test of time.

The theme is plain simple in that it exemplifies a parent’s love for his own child, and the length he is willing to go to rescue her from a bunch of South American mercenaries guided by self-seeking interests (Lester para. 1).

Although such a theme finds more appeal among parents with children of their own, it could be a good starting point for college students to understand how it feels for one to be denied the love of his or her children.

The rocking saxophone-driven soundtrack not only prepares viewers for explosive confrontations in the movie involving Matrix and the mercenaries but also gets the viewers moving in their seats (Lester para. 1).

The action-filled and funny one-liners are hard to ignore, not mentioning that they make viewers want to listen more to the varied conversations involving Matrix and the other characters.

The success of this movie is capped off by outstanding special effects and a vivid acting setting, which adds color, splendor and opulence to the scenes. Indeed, many of the scenes are captured in broad daylight in multiple locations in California and the Pacific Coast.

Of course critics will ultimately dwell on the plot’s simplicity and the level of violence witnessed in the movie to discount it as unfit for many undeserving reasons.

However, movie goers should take time to understand the film’s theme, then digress what they could have done if they were to be faced with a situation similar to what befell Matrix: many, if not all, would have gone into a killing spree to save their loved ones from the bad guys.

Consequently, it is understandable to say that this film is a classical masterpiece of cinematography, deserving the highest acknowledgment and attention from viewers of all walks of life – college students included.

Works Cited

Lester, Mark L. Commando is the Best Film Ever, PT. 1. n.d. Web.

Stevens, Matt. Why Commando is a Great Movie. 2011. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "“Commando” by Mark L. Lester." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/movie-review-commando-by-mark-l-lester/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "“Commando” by Mark L. Lester." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/movie-review-commando-by-mark-l-lester/.


IvyPanda. (2020) '“Commando” by Mark L. Lester'. 20 July.

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