Last year, we brought you the ghastly news that there were plans afoot to remake the iconic Schwarzenegger bulletfest, Commando. Those plans seem to now be solidifying with word from Deadline that Fox has hired David Ayer to write and direct the new film. That part of the tale is encouraging, at least. I’m a fan of David Ayer the writer, and the man. As a former serviceman in the Navy, he’s served this country; and as a writer, he knows how to bring the grit and adventure to his scripts. Just re-watched Training Day for the first time in a long time and it still holds up nicely. So hearing that Ayer is on the job makes me a little less fearful on news of this remake.
However, overall, my feelings on the matter haven’t changed all that much: you can’t remake this film. The original film is not only a product of its time, being the “shoot first, shoot last and give-a-fuck about any questions” 1980s, but it was also one of Schwarzenegger’s defining action films of his career. A dizzying dervish of cartoonish violence, rippling muscles and a larger than life hero doing impossible things. The ’80s were about body counts, man; and if Arnold ever had a higher tally of fools he smoked than this film, I haven’t seen it. Nowadays, though, we’re getting legitimate body counts…our own, and that’s hard to put out of one’s mind.
Back then it was fashionable for movie heroes to leave a mound of corpses in one’s wake with impunity, a world-may-care attitude and no consequences. And we cheered them giddily for doing it. These days, it’s all about the very real morals and horrors of war. Back then we managed to slip through most of the decade with not that much direct military action. Today we’re mired in two very real and very costly wars. Back then, you could have Vernon Wells as a villain, chewing scenery like a teething baby does anything handy. Now we’ll probably get some serious villain, some serious hero and some serious situation. I’m sure Ayer will see to that and at least he can do it competently. But it just won’t be the same.
So again, you can slap that Commando tag on a new film, but it won’t really be Commando.
Thanks to Brian and Felix for the tips.