‘Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome back to the one, the only, Blast from the Past! After the last edition, I decided to take a stay-cation to pick what film is best for this week. After much deliberation, and many many movies and tv shows, I have found my world-class contenders for this week.
Movie: “Commando” (1985)
Pure action. Pure muscle. Pure Arnold Schwarzenegger. That is more or less the summation of the 1980’s action classic, “Commando.” Plus, it’s all you need to know before watching every glorious minute of its explosion-filled beauty.
The story is pretty basic, and you may be surprised to think you’ve heard it already (I’ll get to that later). The film centers around the actions of Matrix, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was once the best Delta Force operative ever to live. He was so good the government sent him and his team into early retirement to protect them and their families. Before the action begins, we see Matrix spending his days in his mountain cabin with his beloved daughter Jenny doing all the things a loving father does: getting her ice cream, eating lunch together, and feeding a wild doe(yeah, that’s where the meme is from, no joke).
Suddenly, all of Matrix’s old teammates die due to brutal attacks, and he and his daughter Jenny get kidnapped by a former South American president who wants revenge. If Matrix doesn’t fly to another country and kill the current president so the former can reclaim his throne, Jenny dies. Of course, Matrix escapes, kills a few people, makes friends with a bazooka-shooting flight-attendant, and eventually takes on the former president’s army one-on-one in an action scene that has no equal.
Now before we get into why this movie is worth a watch, you may be scratching your head. Chances are, you might’ve heard this premise before if you’re a fan of a fake-American-accented Liam Neeson. The plot “Taken” sounds like the same thing, and you’d be right: A man takes on a foreign army one-on-one to save his kidnapped daughter. The plot to action films is the least important part for them, so they do get recycled, but who cares, right?
Anyway, plot out of the way, why is this film worthy of Blast from the Past? Because it is! This film might not have the most explosions I’ve ever seen, but they’re some of the best. That’s the beauty in “Commando.” It’s not the best shoot action film, nor does it have the best acting, but it just exudes badassery. Arnold is at the height of his game in terms of physicality, “acting” and one-liners. You believe he could take an army and seeing it is just the icing on the cake.
The film is also a lot funnier than it needs to be and is a bit self-aware at times. Arnold is side-kicked by Rae Dawn Chong, who is a beautiful addition to the cast. Aside from saving Arnold with the bazooka mentioned above, she also consistently points of the complete absurdity of everything, from the sheer masculinity exuded from the Green Beret vs. Arnold fight to the fact Arnold lifts a car at one point. While the film didn’t win any Oscars for good reasons, if you need a rush of pure adrenaline and to watch someone kick ass and take names, this film has no equal.
TV Show: “Law and Order” (1990)
There has got to be some undercover ad campaign for this show going on right now. This past couple of weeks, I’ve been bombarded by clips from this show on Youtube, and eventually, I just gave up and decided to give it a chance. And I’m sincerely glad I did!
Having started on season three(for reasons that are too complex to explain), I have been binging this long, long, tv show ever since. Currently, while on season five, I have to admit I had no idea what “Law and Order” was actually about, and I’m almost certain most people don’t either.
Well, I mean, yes, it’s about law and order. I’m sure most people have heard the opening. “In the criminal justice system there are two separate but equally important groups: the police who investigate crimes and the district attorneys that prosecute the offenders, these are their stories.” Then, the famous da-dum. That is only the structure of “Law and Order,” though. Each episode provides a fascinating window into the morality and inner workings of our justice system.
What other show offers its audience the question of nature vs. nurture in a way that provides both sides and leaves you sad about proper justice? What about whether mob mentality and systematic oppression that can lead someone to snap and commit murder, are they guilty or a victim? The show makes sure every case, even those cut and dry, asks its viewers to stop, think, and analyze, which very few crime procedurals do these days(and I’ve watched nearly all of them). It brings out a smarter watching experience and keeps you engaged with what otherwise is a pretty formulaic show.
Coupled with this is a revolving cast of characters with dynamics that breathe life into the show. Buddy cops Briscoe and Logan are the origins of the great one-liners CSI made famous, toting them off at the end of every opening. They find the criminals, interview the suspects, and walk the streets. They have a great friendship dynamic, and along the way, their personalities are dotted out in bite-sized but appropriate portions that have you learning more about them as the show goes on.
District Attorney Ben Stone and Clair Kincaid make a great dynamic duo and their passion for the law, yet at times different interpretations of right and wrong are so fun to watch. Later, Jack McCoy replaces Stone, and while different, he is equally as good a character.
Overall, “Law and Order” is a crime-procedural that treats its audience with a little bit of respect, decides to try and engage them a little more than most. With a great cast of characters, thought-provoking cases, and enough plot twists to have Shyamalan say enough is enough, “Law and Order” are twenty seasons of good tv. Give it a try, especially the early episode!