For those of us who grew up during the 1980's, this weekend's movie recommendation probably needs little introduction. Wherever lists are published in the vein of 'The Greatest Action Films of All Time', Cobra generally appears. And with little wonder.
Before Hollywood sank to its current level of has-been's and neurotics posing as great movers of society, there was a measure of quality and talent in the industry. Producers sought to please audiences instead of pleasing politically-correct 'elites'. Cobra was the type of film which played deeply into male psychology---which was part of the secret of its success.
And before armchair critics and sensitive snowflakes start sneering, consider that it's estimated that Cobra earned $160 million worldwide---nearly a 700% profit.
The plot is fairly innovative. Marion Cobretti (played by Sylvester Stallone) is a tough street cop who gets assigned to tough jobs that his timid and bureaucratic bosses can't. The city has been paralyzed by a serial killer, 'The Night Slasher'. Cobretti gets assigned to the case and theorizes it the work of a satanic cult and not of an individual.
His supervisors scoff at the idea until a young aspiring model named Ingrid (played by Brigette Nielsen) accidentally witnesses the cult in the act of murder. The cult leader (who is never named but played by Brian Thompson) decides that Ingrid must be eliminated to protect the cult's secrecy on its path to a New World Order.
After a flurry of gunfights, fistfights, and car-chases, Cobretti's bosses---who are still against his theory---decide to send them out of town under a witness protection arrangement. Ingrid, meanwhile falls in love with Cobretti. At last, in a small upstate town, the cult comes en masse to wipe out Cobretti and Ingrid. And against Stallone, this could be biting off more than one can chew.
The storyline thus is a more sophisticated version of most male action stories: a hero who pulls his weight against official censure, wins a beautiful damsel-in-distress, and treats taking on "an army of killers" as all in a day's work. It's a metaphor for men in general---and how the responsible men in our culture actually behave. Thus its huge appeal for men.
The parts in the film were all well played. Sylvester Stallone was a natural for Cobretti---arguably not his best role, but possibly excepting Rocky seemed to express his personality best. In my opinion, this was Brigette Nielsen's best film by far. She made a lot better damsel-in-distress/adoring girlfriend than some of the dominating and villainess roles later on. Brian Thompson came across as a genuinely sinister and psychotic killer.
Stylistically, Cobra is essentially a knight-in-shining-armor fantasy woven into a plot and scenario that makes it believable and relatable. Not only that, but it's great fun to watch: just ask how many of us have seen it a dozen times---and now want to see it again this weekend!
✬✬✬✬ Four stars out of four for Cobra. No matter how many times you've seen it, it gets better with age.