Commando Movie Poster Image




Brainless, explosion-happy action ('80s style).

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Mainly the implied notions that Matrix is a devoted father, and the gung-ho vibe that one above-the-law guy with lots of firepower can take care of business, whereas police and legitimate military are useless.

Positive role models

Even though one commentator counted that he kills up to 95 or 96 people, Matrix is supposed to be a straight-ahead good guy and protective dad. The villain roster leans a little heavily toward dark-haired/darker-skinned foreign types (as opposed to Arnold, a very Anglo foreign type). Leading lady Stephanie is African American (rarer even back then than today), though at times she's a bit of a comic bumbler.


Blood spatters as people are shot, often multiple times. One arm cut off. An electrocution (oddly non-fatal), numerous stabbings/impalements, beat-downs, falls from lethal heights, big explosions, car crashes. One tranquilizer-darting. Another character fatally slammed into by a car. One character's neck broken.


Brief glimpse of a naked couple in bed when a motel-room door is broken town; bare breasts shown. The heroine pretends to be seducing a bad guy.


The f-word repeatedly (once uttered by the hero), the s-word,  "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Matrix invited to have a beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this action marathon has countless rounds of ammunition fired, some characters bloodily riddled with bullets, necks broken, one arm cut off, numerous stabbings/impalements, falls from lethal heights, ginormous fiery explosions, car crashes/rocket launches (sometimes in combination), etc. Real do-not-try-this-at-home moments include the main character leaping from an ascending airline to the ground and using buzz-saw blades as deadly Frisbees. Swearing is at R-level, with the hero dropping the F-bomb just like the other characters. Oh, and he lies when he promises one character he'll only kill him last. There's one quick, topless peek of woman in bed, part of a couple interrupted in motel sex.

What's the story?

Muscleguy John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a retired super-soldier of some sort, leading a placid existence with his preteen daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in the woods (no word about what happened to the mother). Old cohorts-turned-enemies invade, abducting Jenny to force Matrix to carry out an assassination/coup in the mythical Latin American nation of "Valverde." Instead, Matrix escapes their clutches and takes the fight to the bad guys, one-man-army fashion, with the sometimes-clumsy assistance of a scared stewardess (Rae Dawn Chong) he encounters en route to the villains' lair.

Is it any good?


There were dopier 1980s action movies than this -- check out Sylvester Stallone in Cobra. Still, it's hard to argue very strongly with COMMANDO's listing by the cult-movie website as one of the Ten Worst. While seldom boring (actually, when one fiery blast follows another by rote in the end, it does get pretty tiresome), the down-to-basics action narrative is ludicrous, and only Arnold's devoted (and juvenile) fans might find his "character'" compelling, as Matrix tears apart cars and malls with his bare hands. The champion bodybuilder-actor is indeed the one special effect that holds up best; when Arnold lifts a bad guy, the wire attached to the victim is visible, and "guards" around exploding buildings are clearly immobile cutouts/dummies.

Maybe it was all meant for laughs. At least John Matrix promises no more adventuring in the end; no sequels so far, though there has been talk of a Commando remake.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Schwarzenegger's famous defense of his action movies of this era as being mere "cartoon violence." 

  • Does that really make all the deaths and mayhem in Commando worthwhile entertainment? Would a more realistic approach have worked?

  • Who is your favorite action hero? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 25, 1985
DVD/Streaming release date:May 25, 1999
Cast:Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Hedaya, Rae Dawn Chong
Director:Mark Lester
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:R

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Teen, 16 years old Written byBigA2 April 13, 2011

The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure of Cinema

Your daughter has been kidnapped by a team of evil mercenaries, what do you do? Well, if you Arnold Schwarzenegger, the only logical thing to do would be to run around and firing your gun around randomly. Oh yeah, and you also have to shove a steam pipe into one your enemies (btw, the steam is still flowing though it after Arnie rips it off the wall). This film raises a lot of questions; one is “Why is it so important to say a cheesy line before you kill someone”, and this film would have to be the king of cheesy line, right from the mouth of the king of cheesy lines himself. Featuring such classics as “I eat green berets for breakfast”, “Let off some steam” and “Remember when I said I’d kill you last? I lied”. It also may be the first instance of “I’ll be back”. Other question raised are “How can this guy have 20 people shooting at him simultaneous and not get so much as a scratch on him?”, or “How can he shoot for 10 minutes straight without needing to reload?”, or “How can Arnold leap of a freaking airplane with only the clothes on his back and land safely?” Commando is almost like every action movie trope you know, love, and hate, all rolled into one 90 minute assault (oh, and the fact that it was made in the 80s also helps), and it’s hilarious as hell. I’d be surprised if video stores attendants can still keep this under the “Action” section while keeping a straight face (I mean, the cover of the DVD is funny enough). On the surface, Commando is just another dumb action movie, but its goes deeper than that, because Commando is the dumb action movie to end all dumb action movies. If you like so-bad-it’s-good cinema, this is a must see. PS. A note on the Australian classification of this title; while the film is rated R (the Australian equivalent of NC-17), I really don’t see what makes this something that should be restricted to adults only. Sure, there’s a very, very brief shot of a sex scene (blink and you’ll miss it), but I’ve seen more explicit stiff from M rated films (Australian equivalent of PG-13). If you ask me, Commando shouldn’t be rated anything higher than an MA15+. There’s swearing, but not as much as, say, Pulp Fiction, and the violence is extremely cartoony.
Kid, 11 years old May 16, 2010
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old April 12, 2011

Not such a great movie

I mean, when I first heard about this movie, I definitely wanted to see this, i picture a'hnold, action, and cool quotes. and that's exactly what i got, now why is that a bad thing, BECAUSE THAT'S ALL THAT I GOT!!! This movie contained barely any story, character development, creative choreography. One thing that's really upsetting is the climax, all that happens is a'hnold shooting henchman, not that interesting considering he's owning all of them, that woman that was with him in the first part would be more interesting, because at least she has her limits. well there is a brief shot of a sex scene, and a lot of swearing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing