Commando ★★★

Not a wasted second or gesture here. Everything follows directly from the premise, and it all moves at a steady clip within a tightly compressed time frame. While watching, I was reminded of a few other movies, namely:

• The Friday the 13th series, whose fifth installment had been released just a few months prior. Like Jason Voorhees, Schwarzenegger's John Matrix is an efficient killing machine around whose sundry acts of violence the film is structured. Both men also resemble the literal killing machine Schwarzenegger had played the previous year, in that they "absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead." (Commando reprises that film's catchphrases "I'll be back" and "Fuck you, asshole" as well.)

Something Wild, but with "gigantic motherfucker" Arnold Schwarzenegger in place of the diminutive Melanie Griffith. Glimmers of romantic comedy shine through Commando as he disrupts the life of flight attendant Rae Dawn Chong, turning her would-be typical night into the ride of a lifetime. She's the audience surrogate who's both wowed by his strength and bemused by his wanton destruction, quipping "I can't believe this macho bullshit!" as he goes mano-a-mano with Bill Duke.

• Silent melodramas dating back to D.W. Griffith. The end of Commando is as elemental as it gets, with the hero (John) racing to save the victim (his daughter Jenny) from the unconscionably evil villain (former colleague Bennett). This moral and narrative simplicity befits Schwarzenegger's screen presence, which is all about his extraordinary body in action. And it's easy for me to imagine a one-liner like "Let off some steam" working just as well in an intertitle.