Cobra

What a movie. The eponymous Cobra (Stallone) is part of the ‘zombie squad’, an elite section of the LA police force that does the jobs no one else wants, also known as killing bad guys when all the regular cops are sat twiddling their thumbs. That it is called a ‘squad’ is actually a misrepresentation, it seems to pretty much just be good old Sly all on his lonesome. He has a buddy, but he seems to be there just so Sly has someone to direct wisecracks at. Obviously, a guy named Cobra, on the zombie squad needs something a little more sinister than just your regular old criminals to deal with. This is the 80s, and nothing says excess like a serial killer gang with an axe obsession. It pretty much all goes down exactly as you expect it to, but there are a few little things that make this film slightly more awesome than … well … almost all other films. Look out for the crazy product placement. It is seriously in your face, and whilst you might well think that it is all about pepsi, one scene later in the movie features a Coke vending machine so prominently that it absolutely has to have been put there on purpose. The weird thing about it is though, this vending machine sits right in the middle of the only scene where everyone is truly safe and happy, the Pepsi stuff is equally conspicuous in the shoot out/fight scenes. Were I conspiratorially minded I’d argue that Coke paid a good chunk of money to have their product associated with the happy, nice scenes, whilst Pepsi takes more bullets than the bad guys. The second interesting thing about Cobra is that politically, it is on rather shaky ground. Cobra doesn’t believe in the judicial system, preferring to blast holes in bad guys instead. This isn’t a throw away line or two, it quite literally bookends the movie making the whole thing a manifesto for a sort of Judge Dredd style outlook on justice. The movie starts with Stallone listing some pretty grim crime statistics which serves to place the blasting the faces off the bad guys action that follows within a real world context, there is the potential to read the film as literally saying we should begin to police our cities in this fashion. We’ll put it down to 80s excess again, there is probably no point being a cop if you don’t just kill all the bad guys. Speaking of 80’s excess, Cobra was directed by George P. Cosmatos – probably the most 80s director of them all. There is a brilliant sense in Cosmatos movies that if something looks cool it should probably be in there, even if the storyline doesn’t really require it. So Cobra has millions of these little things, totally inappropriate police cars, dirt bikes, climatic fight scene in a foundry, shoot up in a superstore with added shotgun blasts of fruit, crazy awesome red filter over the whole of the opening credits, robots … the list goes on and on. Really it is a lament. The only movies that are being made at the moment which are even close to this on a silliness level are far too low budget to really get these things done right and properly, whilst all the big budget movies are too full of CGI or, for some weird reason, have storylines that are actually believable. That is, I suppose, except for The Expendables series. Ah Stallone, this is why you are my favorite.

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