I love big, dumb action movies. Sue me. I love to watch faceless guys get mowed down in a hail of machine gun fire whilst uttering Wilhelm screams. I love sneering heroes and cowardly villains. My brother and I may have watched The Running Man until the tape broke in our VCR. Revenge and retribution are always fun ways to spend an hour and a half.
Lately, Hollywood seems to have steered away from the pure action movie. They seem less inclined to invest in a movie where stuff blows up that doesn’t have a super hero in it. Audiences apparently want more depth in their films. Maybe what audiences need is Marion Cobretti.
When a film opens with a gun pointed at you, you know exactly what you’re in for. Cobra is the story of Marion Cobretti, a cop for the LAPD’s elite Zombie Squad. Played by Sylvester Stallone at the height of his 80’s powers, Cobra is a surly, tight pants wearin’, vintage car drivin’, aviator sunglasses wearin’ cure for crime. No, really. He lets us know pretty early on that “Crime is a disease. I’m the cure”.
Cobra loves his guns like I love my cats. He drops one liners left and right. He beats up people if they park in his parking spot. He chews on a matchstick instead of a toothpick. If there was ever an 80’s action archetype, Cobra would be it.
The “story” focuses on Cobra’s mission to find and exterminate the New Order (not the band, thankfully), a cult that select weak members of humanity to eliminate. Cobra eventually takes lovely model Ingrid (played by future ex-wife Brigitte Nielsen) into protective custody when she is hunted for seeing the leader of the New Order (the generically named Night Slasher) commit a murder. They flee to a deserted town where eventually Cobra kills the bad guys and wins the girl.
Cobra contains every single 80’s action movie trope that could be listed. We have a police officer who doesn’t play by the rules. We have the snarky captain who antagonizes said police officer. We have terrible throw away one-liners.
And you know what? It’s magic.
Cobra doesn’t try to be a psychological thriller. Cobra doesn’t try for subtext.
Marion Cobretti kills 39 people. By himself.
If you want something deep, this is not the movie for you. If you want to watch a fantastic 80’s action movie where Stallone butchers things for 90 minutes while looking like a badass, then this film is going to rock your socks.
Thankfully, the pure action movie isn’t completely dead. Films like Dredd, John Wick, Drive, and Mad Max: Fury Road give me hope. The Expendables franchise is always a fun distraction. It might not be the glory days of the 80’s, but I’m anxious to see where we’re headed.