Commando
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FAQ for
Commando (1985) More at IMDbPro »

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The following FAQ entries contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Commando can be found here.

When his 10-year old daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped in order to force him to kill the president of Val Verde and reseat exiled dictator Arius (Dan Hedaya), a retired Army Commando, Colonel John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger), goes looking for her. Aided by pilot-in-training Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) and with only 11 hours to find Jenny before she will be killed, John will stop at nothing to rescue her.

Commando is based on a storyline and screenplay by American screenwriters Steven E. de Souza, Joseph Loeb III, and Matthew Weisman. A sequel was planned based on the 1979 book Nothing Lasts Forever by American writer Roderick Thorp. When Schwarzenegger opted out, however, the script was rewritten and filmed as Die Hard (1988).

No. Val Verde is a fictional country 'created' by screenwriters specifically for Commando. The initial script by Loeb and Weisman was set in Israel. Wishing to avoid real world politics, de Souza relocated the film to a fictional country, which, according to de Souza, is "something like Guyana, a country which encompasses lush Caribbean resorts popular with tourists, an unexplored mysterious rainforest, and a mix of Anglo, Spanish, African, Creole and indigenous cultures. This is a country of the imagination I've used in several films and TV programs, which I thought was my little inside baseball joke, but Eric Lichtenfeld, the author of Actions Speak Louder, recently sent me a Wikipedia page on it! Seriously, my Dad's family is from that part of the world and it's something I can write about with some familiarity" (quoted here).

Since Commando, Val Verde has been mentioned in two films, two TV shows, and one comic. The two films are Predator (1987) and Die Hard 2 (1990). In Predator, the primary setting of the movie is the jungle of Val Verde. In Die Hard 2, General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) is from Val Verde, and it was whilst in Val Verde that both Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) and Major Grant (John Amos) turned traitor. On television, the country was mentioned in the short-lived TV series' Supercarrier and Adventure Inc.. In the pilot episode of Supercarrier, the eponymous supercarrier, the USS Georgetown, docks in Val Verde. In episode 10 of Adventure Inc, entitled "The Plague Ship of Val Verde", Judson Cross (Michael Biehn) and his team end up in the middle of a biological warfare experiment being run in Val Verde by Colonel Fortunas (Frank Pellegrino). Val Verde is also the home of Sheena in the 2008 revamp of the 1937 comic, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. De Souza has been involved with all of the these projects except Predator. He wrote Die Hard 2 and he executive-produced both Supercarrier and Adventure Inc.. He also co-wrote (with Robert Rodi) the reboot of Sheena.

Although never fully mentioned in the script, we can assume that, due to his senior rank of colonel and his expertise with various firearms and explosives, John had a long history of being cross-trained in front line infantry tactics, demolitions and explosives, special ops training including but not limited to airborne/ranger/green beret/survival and evasion tactics. When confronted by Cooke (Bill Duke) in the motel room, Cooke said, "Scared? Well you should be cause this green beret's about to kick your big ass." John replies, "I eat green berets for breakfast!" John wasn't afraid to fight Cook, and he was very aware of and prepared to take on any green beret's hand-to-hand combat expertise. Simply put, John Matrix was basically a one man unstoppable army.

See here for the IMFDb entry for Commando, with information on every type of weapon used throughout the film, as well as screenshots and factual information on the weaponry.

After hijacking a seaplane and flying to the island where Jenny is being held, John and Cindy land in a secluded cove. Cindy remains with the plane and attempts to contact Major General Kirby (James Olson) while John, armed with guns, grenades, knives, and a rocket launcher, storms Arius' barracks and kills his private militia before killing Arius, too. Meanwhile, Jenny escapes from the room where she's being held hostage and makes her way through the basement, calling out 'Daddy?' as she flees. John, Jenny, and Bennett (Vernon Wells) finally meet up, and John and Bennett go at each other in hand-to-hand combat until John ends up killing Bennett by impaling him with a steam pipe. As John and Jenny walk out onto the beach, they are met by Major Kirby, three helicopters, and Cindy's seaplane. The burning barracks can be seen in the background. 'Leave anything for us?' Kirby asks. 'Just bodies,' John replies. In the final scene, as John and Jenny head for the seaplane, Kirby invites John to start up his Special Forces Unit again. 'No chance,' John replies.

No, it's not chainmail. According to actor Vernon Wells, who was asked about the vest at a UK convention in November 2004, it's wool or cotton. Indeed, if you look closely, particularly in the scene where Bennett is leaning over Matrix as he is tied to the table, you will notice that the vest is, in fact, a cotton or wool string vest.

The entire film was shot in and around California, primarily in Los Angeles and its environs. The opening garbage truck scene was filmed in Encino in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. All the scenes at Matrix's home were filmed in a real log cabin situated on Mount San Antonio (aka Mt. Baldy) in the San Gabriel Mountains in northern LA. The scenes in the airport were shot in Los Angeles International Airport (aka LAX). The mall scene weas shot in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (although the building that occupies the location now is not the same building that was there in 1985). The car dealer scene was filmed in Casa de Cadillac at 14401 Ventura Boulevard, located in Sherman Oaks. The chase with Sully was shot on Mulholland Drive, in southern California. The scene on the dock at the start of the film and the scene where Matrix and Cindy steal the plane were both filmed at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. All scenes in Arius' house were shot at the Harold Lloyd Estate, 1740 Green Acres Place, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. The scene in Surplus City was shot in Surplus City Jeep Parts located at 11796 Sheldon Street in Sun Valley. Surplus City Jeep Parts is now located at 4514 Pacific Heights Road in Oroville, Butte County. All the scenes in the military camp and on the beach were shot on or near the coastline at Sam Simeon, in San Luis Obispo County. The final fight between Bennett and Matrix was shot in the boiler room on the 20th Century Fox backlot, in Century City. See here for additional locations

Over the years, one of the most common topics of conversation regarding this film relates to Bennett's sexuality; is he homosexual, and more specifically, is he in love with Matrix. Although the official answer to this question is no (on his DVD commentary, director Mark L. Lester states "I don't know what people are saying when they say that to me. He seems to me like the most macho soldier or person you could think of"), the question remains active, and the theory that Bennett is secretly in love with Matrix continues to be popular amongst fans. For example, in the British film magazine Hot Dog, an article by Andy McDermott, entitled "What About Vernon Wells as Bennett in Commando?" discussed his sexuality, with tongue firmly in cheek. In this article, McDermott writes


Bennett is a walking, talking, stereotypical embodiment of the macho, puritanical Reagan era's utter terror of homosexuality, gripped with the fear that the slightest chink in the masculine armor will instantly result in a trip to the YMCA and a purchase of a pair of chaps and a tube of KY jelly.
McDermott argues, as do many fans, that Bennett's clothes are a give away to his hidden homosexuality, describing them as "Freddie Mercury casual. Leather trousers, a chunky string vest with a belt worn over it, what looks like a bike chain around his neck - all that's missing is a studded armband." Taking this into account, McDermott points out that Matrix is the polar opposite of this; the man's man who is clearly a raging heterosexual, and damn proud of it;

Arnie's John Matrix, on the other hand, is presented as the ultimate man, so much so that it deserves capitalization. He's a MAN, man. He owns more guns than Ted Nugent and Hunter S. Thompson combined. His earlobes have muscles. He exudes so much testosterone that bullets bounce off the miasmic cloud of MAN-spume.
McDermott go on to argue that whilst Bennett always calls Matrix by his first name, suggesting affection and familiarity, Matrix always calls Bennett by his surname, suggesting distance. This leads him to hypothesize that perhaps Bennett was kicked out of the unit by Matrix, because Matrix discovered that Bennett had become sexually attracted to him; "all he wanted was a little love, and instead he got fired. No wonder he's mad." McDermott also attaches great metaphorical significance to Matrix' line at the end of the film, "Put the knife in me. Look me in the eye and see what's going on in there when you turn it. Don't deprive yourself of some pleasure. C'mon Bennett. Let's party." The image of one man putting something in another man and then turning it, McDermott argues, has obvious homosexual connotations. He also points out the significance of the fact that Matrix' knife is bigger than Bennett's, thus causing "knife envy" in Bennett, prompting him to attack his "love/hate object". McDermott also comments on the irony inherent in the fact that although Bennett seemed to be in love with Matrix (and presumably wanted to have sex with him), it is Matrix who penetrates Bennett at the end of the film, albeit with a steel pole in the chest. Which probably wasn't what Bennett had in mind.

The question of Bennett's possible homosexuality is also addressed in the 2007 DVD featurette "Commando: Let Off Some Steam". Screenwriter Steven E. de Souza mentions the much discussed wardrobe issue, pointing out that "the wardrobe on Vernon Wells has led to a lot of conjecture that Vernon had a crush on Arnold's character." Rae Dawn Chong goes into more detail about the homosexual undercurrent in the film, arguing that the film is basically a love story gone awry;

They're like lovers. The outfit they had on him, I mean, hello, he looks like one of the Village People. Arnold is the ideal, and you know, if you can't be it and can't love it, you want to kill it. That really confusing sexuality comes through and it manifests in violence.
Vernon Wells sums up the whole argument succinctly, pointing out that Bennett is"Freddie Mercury on steroids."

The R2 UK DVD, released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (UK) in 2003 contains a theatrical trailer and the theatrical cut of the film. The R1 US Director's Cut DVD, released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2007 contains the following special features: (1) a digitally restored picture and a digitally remastered soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1, (2) both the theatrical cut and the Director's Cut of the film, (3) feature length audio commentary with director Mark L. Lester, (4) "Commando: Pure Action"; a 15 minute making of featurette made exclusively for the DVD, (5) "Commando: Let Off Some Steam"; a 7 minute featurette made exclusively for the DVD, looking at the importance of humor in the film, (6) three deleted scenes, (7) four stills galleries ('Creating Commando'; 'Domestic Bliss with John and Jenny'; 'Kill, Arnold, Kill'; 'Trashing the Galleria'), and (8) a 4-page booklet.

There are three: (1) 'Mall Aftermath': In the wreckage of the mall, Kirby (James Olson) warns a police detective not to pursue Matrix as it is too dangerous. The policeman is not happy with this advice, but Kirby tells him that the safest course of action would be to let the situation play out as Matrix wants it to, (2) 'Freeze!': In the final scene, we see Kirby arriving on the beach of Val Verde and a soldier tells Matrix to freeze as he carries Jenny from the camp. Matrix completely ignores him however and keeps walking, and (3) 'Bennett's Death': Three alternate takes of Matrix's "Let off some steam Bennett" line, (a) "I hate small talk" (no, it makes no sense whatsoever), (b) "I think it was too much pressure for you Bennett", and (c) "Can't take the pressure Bennett, huh?"

There is approximately one minute and forty-one seconds of difference between the theatrical cut and the Director's Cut, comprising the following scenes: In the theatrical release, when Arius tells Jenny (Alyssa Milano) that Matrix is cooperating and asks her if she thinks it would be nice to see him again, she responds, "Not nearly as nice as watching him smash your face in." In the Director's Cut, she says, "Not nearly as nice as watching him kick your ass." During the scene where Matrix and Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) follow Sully (David Patrick Kelly) from the airport to the shopping mall, there is an extra scene where Cindy asks Matrix what his name is and what he does for a living. After Matrix has killed Sully, there is a short scene of Arius, Bennett and Jenny arriving in Val Verde, then a scene of Matrix explaining to Cindy what's going on. In the Director's Cut, this scene runs longer, with Cindy asking Matrix about Jenny's mother, who Matrix says died in childbirth. He then laments how he has missed all the important moments of her life due to his work around the world. Cindy asks him why he had to do so much traveling, and what he did, to which he replies, "Things you don't want to know about. Things that sometimes I wish I didn't know about. But that part of my life is over with, all that matters to me now is Jenny." The tool-shed scene is slightly longer. Included amongst the new material is a brief close up of a rake piercing a soldier's belly, a shot of a saw-blade slicing a soldier's neck, a shot of the soldier who is hit in the groin with the axe grimacing in pain, and a shot of the soldier touching the stump of his arm after Matrix has cut it off. A detailed comparison between the theatrical version and the unrated version, with images, can be found here, while a list of deleted scenes, and information on the edited UK version can be found here.

Yes it is. Both the US edition and the UK edition, both released in 2008, feature the theatrical cut and none of the special features from the R1 DVD. However, the 30th Anniversary Edition, released in the UK in 2015, contains both cuts of the film and all of the special features from the R1 DVD, with the exception of the stills gallery.

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