Commando

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If you’re never seen the TV series of The Equalizer, the movie probably won’t inspire you to seek it out. Well, maybe for some of the before-they-were-stars guest appearances, including Steve Buscemi (a clip of that one was recently seen in The Wolf of Wall Street) and Melissa Leo, who is now in the movie adaptation. And maybe the episode where Adam Ant plays the villain. For the premise itself, though, it’s not that tight of a link. The show and its theatrical successor aren’t especially distinct, and there are as or more relevant movies that just don’t share the name so aren’t as obvious necessary predecessors. Fortunately, here’s another installment of our column where we recommend movies to go back and watch after seeing a lesser new release. Not that all the selected titles are truly better movies, but of course that’s all subjective. What’s important is that they’re either somehow related or are necessary classics or both. This week, we have a couple of movies for which The Equalizer feels like a sequel (is this where I get to make a “Sequalizer” joke?), a few that are thematically similar or feature notable parallels, a few that are sort of referenced in the new movie and as always some that are earlier works of talent involved in the current release. The following list alludes to plot points in The Equalizer and therefore may include spoilers. Read on after you’ve seen the new movie or just don’t care.

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arnold schwarzenegger in sabotage 4

Most aging movie stars today seem content on doing sequels to their long ago hits. Sylvester Stallone with further installments of Rocky and Rambo, Bruce Willis with Die Hard, Harrison Ford with Indiana Jones (especially now that certain rumors have been denied), everyone who’ll be returning for the next Star Wars installment. And Arnold Schwarzenegger might be joining them, given that there’s talk of him returning to the Terminator, Conan and Twins properties. But aside from the Terminator franchise, he has never been one for sequels (I don’t count his Expendables work yet, as they’re not really his movies), and even with that series he basically opted out of the last one, although part of the reason was because he was busy with his new career as Governor of California. Now that he’s back in the action, there’s been an easy inclination to compare his new movies to his old. It’s understandable, as we’re curious if he’s still got what he had in those ’80s blockbusters we love. It’s not that different than what we do with his peers, comparing those guys’ new sequels to the start of the franchise and other prior installments. Our associative minds may want to to align the tendencies and look for heyday Schwarzenegger movies that most relate to the current releases, as if these new movies are sequels, too. I did it with his first real starring vehicle since leaving office, noting in my review a link between his characters in The Last Stand […]

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As written, The Last Stand is not an interesting movie. It’s a simple modern-day western as action flick with dialogue that’s nearly 100% expositional and a plot that offers nothing in the way of surprise, suspense or subtlety. It could really have been made at any time and starred any major or minor actor and been roughly the same as what we’re looking at this weekend with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leading role. But The Last Stand is arriving now and indeed with Schwarzenegger’s name on the top of the marquee, his first starring vehicle in ten years. That makes the movie of note all by itself, in such a way that it might as well be actually titled “The Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Or “Arnold is Back,” although this would imply that it’s an opportunity for winking bits of self-awareness. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of silly references to the Arnie classics and signature lines. He thankfully got the obvious “I’m back” shtick out of his system in last year’s The Expendables 2.

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Drinking Games

After almost eight years as governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen in a lead role in The Last Stand, releasing this week. For fans of his action movies, the best way to prepare for this is to dig into the classics of his filmography. Few Arnold films are as classic as Mark Lester’s 1985 hit Commando. Commando tells the story of retired Delta Force operative John Matrix, whose daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped to ensure he’ll assassinate a South American president. Of course, things don’t go well for the bad guys when Matrix tosses that mission aside and blows everything up in his way to rescue Jenny. It’s Arnold, post-Terminator, and he’s back.

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Boiling Point

I guess I’m feeling pretty violent these days, since last week I talked about how more people on TV needed to die and we’re revisiting the subject of death again this week. Though, with a slightly different slant – whereas previously I wanted more death, now I want that same amount of death, but slower. In television, everyone seems like they’re in a huge hurry to die. Granted, the world of make believe is at least as dangerous as the real one, in fact, it’s infinitely more so. In a regular day, most of us won’t contend with tornadoes, Megasnakes, Sharktopi, advanced alien civilizations, primitive monsters, serial killers, psycho killers, bank robbers or mutated man-beast hybrids. Sure, there are some exceptional days, but for the most part we don’t have as much to worry about. Regardless of what Last Action Hero says, I think we also have it safer, after all, we don’t just instantly drop dead at the slightest provocation.

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“You know, I don’t know if it really makes sense to call it Commando. Maybe it does or maybe doesn’t. It is the reboot of it and all of that stuff.” That’s producer John Davis, inspiring confidence that he knows what he’s talking about since 2011. The producer revealed to Collider that he’d been working on a remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring action flick that let us all blow off a little steam. Harsh Times writer/director David Ayer has written the script and may direct the film himself, but it’s unclear (thanks to Davis) how closely it will follow the original. “Bad guy steals girl and is pursued by guy who won’t die” is a bit too high concept to speculate on when it comes to remake territory, so a ton of the work will fall on Ayer’s script. The bigger question is whether a faithful remake will make sense in a world of more realistic action films. That modifier should be taken with a grain of salt considering a movie came out last year where a tank was dropped out of a plane, but Commando featured a literal one-man army killing thousands without getting scratched. It also had more one-liners per cubic foot than any other action movie. Can Ayer top that record? Remember when they promised to remake Commando last?

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Boiling Point

Many people will come to the defense of outrageous events in movies and otherwise unbelievable activities by claiming movies are all about the “suspension of disbelief.” That’s why cars can turn into robots, animals can talk, heroes can surf anything to safety, and all the Jewish people rode unicorns to Israel at the end of Schindler’s List. See, that last one is a joke about how not all movies are about the suspension of disbelief. Sometimes movies make a greater impact by maintaining a thread of realism throughout. No, Die Hard isn’t the most realistic film in the world, but when a shoeless McClane has to run over broken glass, you can relate to “that must fucking hurt” because you can see it affects him for the next ten minutes of the movie. In movie time that’s like 8 years, so it’s no wonder he’s back to running and jumping by the end of the film. While I’m the first to admit I enjoy action films where a commando can jump from a plane flying 150mph and fall 300 feet into a swamp and be fine, there are a few minor movie injuries that bug the shit out of me.

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At the end of 2010 we counted down the ten best action films of the year as an introduction to this column, the (almost) cleverly titled Bullet Points, our newest, most explosive column focusing on the action world. Beyond just reviewing action films, Bullet Points sets its sights on the genre as a whole- from stunts to guns, ass kickings to wire-fu and even just what the hell makes action films so great in the first place. In what is effectively our first official Bullet Points entry we wanted to get right to the ignition point of the explosion and discuss the ultimate principle of the action universe. That is, what makes a damn fine shoot ‘em up, beat ‘em up, blow ‘em up?

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If there’s one thing I love more than seeing a great movie for the first time, it’s sharing a movie that I find great with someone whom has never seen it before. It might be part of something essential in human nature: a desire to share an experience that one finds profound with those whose opinion you trust and value. Whether it be something intensely moving, shockingly original, incredibly interesting, intellectually challenging, or unprecedentedly hilarious, introducing a valuable cinematic experience to a friend can induce the most rewarding of feelings for the cinephile.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we toss the last dying ember onto the fire, get down with Freddy, and discuss the possibly-sordid reason Paramount passed on Anchorman 2.

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Now I’m starting to see the downside to remaking Predator. The Arnie remake floodgates will open, and Fox isn’t saving Commando for last.

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That is a bold assertion, but you know what they say about assertions – shut up and watch things go BOOM. Now with video!

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There’s a long, illustrious history of movies that feature characters on quests for vengeance. Here are what we believe to be the ten most notable.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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