As always, Spoiler Alert.
When I was in high school in the ’80s, I attended some kind of writers’ workshop conference-type thingy put on by the school board. I don’t remember much about it, beyond that it was held in a museum and there was a panel discussion at the end of the day. And the only reason I remember the panel discussion was that, while answering a question, one of the panelists said something about great writers “like Sylvester Stallone.” Pretty much the entire audience laughed, and the panelist, genuinely surprised at our reaction, told us that Stallone wrote Rocky.
Stallone also wrote Cobra. Which is definitive proof that even the greatest of writers can have a bad day.
I grew up on ’80s action movies, and let me tell you, Cobra is one of the eightiest action movies ever. Funnily enough, this is the first time I’ve seen it – back when it was released I was more of a Schwarzenegger fan than a Stallone one, so Cobra fell through the cracks – but even still, it transported me back to the days of synthesizer music, big hair, and aviator sunglasses.
Unfortunately, the aesthetic nostalgia buzz was the only good thing about it, as the movie is filled with tired tropes and a by-the-numbers plot. Stallone plays Marion Cobretti, aka Cobra, a cop who doesn’t play by the rules but gets results, and even my keyboard rolled its eyes as I typed that. Cobra spends equal time being chewed out by his superiors and chasing down bad guys with lingering camera shots to show off his flashy, and often oddly dancelike, moves.
Add in the obligatory romance between Cobra and the woman he’s protecting (played by Brigitte Nielsen), a cartoon villain and followers, a couple of “That Guy” actors (Brian Thompson and Lee Garlington), a montage, a motorcycle, a final battle that takes place in a foundry that goes from fully shut down to functioning at 100% simply by a security guard falling on a control panel when he’s shot, and a truly ludicrous number of bullets, and you’ve got more than enough to fill your ’80s action movie bingo card.
What’s missing from the formula is the fun. The best ’80s action flicks never took themselves too seriously, a memo that Cobra apparently never got. The result is a painfully wooden movie not even worth it for the kitsch value.
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.
I was never a big fan of Stallone until I saw him interviewed in a serious light and he surprised with his humour and intelligence. Not at all like his almost non verbal characters. He was also so much smaller than I expected – like a dolly on a stick you buy at a Show.
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A friend of mine quite literally ran into him on the Halifax waterfront years ago – as in, neither was paying attention to where they were going and they walked right into each other. My friend said the same thing, that he’s smaller than you’d expect. But even so, he’s so solidly built that he almost knocked my friend off his feet.
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