The ‘80s had no shortage of cheesy-as-hell action movies, and 1985’s Commando is one of the best. Arnie! Terrible '80s fashion! Quips! Rae Dawn Chong playing a female lead who’s way more proactive, independent, and non-sexualized than you would expect, given the typically misogynist tendencies of the genre! Commando as a whole serves as a nuanced critique of toxic masculinity. I swear. I’ll need A) a rewatch and B) a few cocktails in me to properly elucidate this point further, but for now, you’re just gonna have to trust me that if there’s any corny ‘80s action movie that is Secretly Feminist, Commando is it.
A young Alyssa Milano appears in one of her first screen roles as the imposingly named JENNY MATRIX, the daughter of retired special forces operative JOHN MATRIX, which is without a doubt Arnold Schwarzenegger's best character name. Jenny Matrix likes '80s pop music and overalls and both learning self-defense techniques from her dad and feeding cute little deer with him because John Matrix fulfills the archetypal roles of both mother and father. Commando is a subtle critique of society's rigidly enforced gender roles. I swear I am not making this up.
Jenny Matrix doesn't like being kidnapped and held for ransom so her father will perform One Last Job, which makes it unfortunate that that's exactly what happens. And, while Jenny doesn't do anything quite so action hero-y as literally picking up and throwing a phone booth with a man still inside it, she does manage to get some self-rescue going on by breaking out of the room in which she's being held. She's a resourceful li'l so-and-so, is what I'm saying. And who could have doubted it? She's Alyssa Milano! She's a witch and she's capable of burning holes in the back of Brett Kavanaugh's head at up to 50 paces. There's only one real downside to her character, and that's that she doesn't know how belts work.
But hey, it's the '80s. It was a weird time.