You’re a disease – and I’m the cure.
Bad 80’s movie stereotypes? This movie created a lot of them. Stallone’s character is a sunglasses at midnight, matchstick chewing, gun crazy, hot-rod driving, loner cop who plays by his own rules. Sound familiar? He even has his own tagline. “You’re a disease – and I’m the cure.”
The only thing bigger than the chases and gunfights is star Sylvester Stallone’s massive ego trip.
In Cobra, Stallone stars as loner cop, Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, a member of his department’s outcast zombie squad. Traffic tickets, mug shots and probable cause are the problem of lesser beings in his universe. He singlehandedly deals with the lowest of the low in the criminal world.
Early in the film he confronts a crazed mass shooter and stalks him through a supermarket before dropping his signature line and the bad guy with as much effort as an ordinary mortal swats a fly. Thus establishing Cobra’s badass creds; we get to see his cool car, his loner existence and basically establish how cool and loner-ish he is.
I wear my sunglasses at night, in the dark, in the shower, etc.
Do I feel lucky… Whoops, wrong film. You’re a disease and I’m the cure!
Yes, it is a very cool car.
At the same time, some psychos are slashing semi-random women. These characters are part of some kind of satanic cult (was there any other kind of movie cult in the 80’s?) that seems to include members of the police department for some unknown reason.
Underrated actor Brian Thompson as the Night Slasher, the cult leader
The police are stumped until a beautiful young model (Brigitte Nielsen) is an eyewitness to one of the attacks. Responsibility for her safety falls on Cobra after he rescues her from a second attack at the local hospital and they try to evade the cult in a series of chases.
Seriously Cobra? You’re actually chasing a car that tried to kill your witness while she’s in the car with you? This leads to a final confrontation between Cobra and Co. some random Bikers and the cult’s leaders outside the city. The final battle is set in a cool industrial facility reminiscent of the end battle in 1984’s The Terminator starring Stallone’s action hero competition Ahnuld “Governator” Schwarzenegger.
In the middle of all the slashing, chasing, shooting and chest thumping, is a surreal 10+ minute sequence showing Brigitte Nielson trying on bizarre outfits and modeling because, Supermodel.
The Great Dane herself, Brigitte Nielsen.
Started as a personal vanity project out of the ruins of the attempt to cast Sylvester Stallone as Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop movie. Cobra was an attempt to establish Stallone as an action brand in the same vein as Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
One of the few times that the film stops trying to show off. Good scene, wish there were more like it.
Stallone was very hands on with this project (and with costar Brigitte Nielsen). Writing large sections of the screenplay, starring and micromanaging director George Cosmatos. What we see on screen is effectively what Stallone personally wanted to project as his action film persona and the results are not pretty.
As much of a jumbled mess as this movie is, it’s actually managed to make money at the box office despite being mauled by the critics, mainly on the strength of the Stallone brand.
Another interesting fact is that the source book for Cobra was made into two very different films. Cobra and Cindy Crawford’s first and only feature film lead role, 1995’s Fair Game.
If it sounds like I’m picking on Cobra, it’s only because I think the film had potential. It’s a very good looking film. The cinematography and stunts are very good and it paces well.
The problem is mainly in the star and the sizable ego involved. Cobra, the character is just too much of a Mary Sue to even be remotely believable and not self-aware of it enough to be charming. Seriously, the guy is effectively perfect, any screw-ups in the movie are the fault of other characters. He’s the worst action Gary Stue I’ve ever seen except for possibly Jason Statham’s character in The Transporter. It’s hard to build up any kind of tension as he effortlessly destroys anyone who gets in his way, either by gunplay, crazy driving or badass asides that send his coworkers scurrying for cover.
I personally think that with any other star with less ego on the line and some rewrites and editing, this film could have been much better.
Another problem is that this film was cut six ways to Sunday to get the running time down and improve the response of the test audiences. This opened up huge continuity gaps, characters reacting to now non-existent events, important motivational cues and backstory missing. All of this combined with the previously mentioned issues fatally wounded the film when it was released.
If taken seriously, this is a very flawed film. As a comedy, it’s actually more amusing than films such as Last Action Hero, which was meant as a parody of action films. I actually quite enjoy watching it when it comes on cable.
Verdict: 2 Gavels out of 5
Attractive leads and visuals can’t save this expensive whale of a vanity project from collapsing under the weight of its own ego. Still, it is an entertaining catch if you happen to find it on cable. Especially if you like entertainingly bad films.