Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
You have the right to remain silent!
on December 11, 2013
After rewatching COBRA after an interval of many years, I didn’t know whether to rate it one star, because it’s so ridiculously, God-awfully silly, stupid and over-the-top…or to rate it five stars for that exact same reason. So I compromised and gave it three.
Marion “Cobra” Cobretti would hate me for that. He doesn’t like compromise.
In fact, Marion “Cobra” Cobretti doesn’t like much of anything, except chewing on matchsticks, driving his 50s muscle car, and mowing down criminals like a drunken redeck knocking tin cans off a fence with a machine gun. Who is Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, you ask? Well, if Clint “Dirty Harry” Eastwood and Charles “Death Wish” Bronson had a baby, and that baby was Godfathered by Arnold “Commando” Schwarzenegger, the answer would be Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, the head (and seemingly almost the only member of) The Zombie Squad, an LAPD detective unit called in when wishy-washy nonsense like Miranda and the Bill of Rights fail. And at the film’s opening, Cobra (Sylvester Stallone) is called in to deal with a psycho who has just shot up a grocery store at Christmas. This displeases Cobretti’s immediate boss, wishy-washy Monty (Andrew Robinson), who knows where Cobretti goes, a litter of spent shell casings and bloody corpses will follow. But F Monty and those bleeding heart liberal reporters, because the truth is that crime is a disease, and Cobra is the cure – so he tells the psycho before first stabbing and then finally riddling him with bullets. Afterwards, the reporters ask if “this killing had any connection to the Night Slasher case.” Monty says no, which of course means that there IS a connection to whatever the hell the Night Slasher case may be, and that the Cobra will soon discover what it is.
(Behind those mirrored shades lies the investigative savvy of a Sherlock Holmes, believe me.)
But who is the Night Slasher, you ask? The Night Slasher (Brian Thompson) is the jut-jawed leader of a gang of homicidal maniacs who go out every night and viciously murder Angelinos with sharp or blunt instruments, evidently for the hell of it. He spews nonsense about “creating a new world by slaughtering the weak” but really, he’s just evil scum – precisely the sort of scum Cobretti’s .45 ACP slugs were made to splatter all over downtown Los Angeles. And when the Slasher’s gang drops the ball (or rather, the axe) by leaving a witness alive to one of its random slayings, the ball gets a-rollin’. See, ole Slasher has what you might call an unforgettable face – it screams I AM THE NIGHT SLASHER, ASK ME ABOUT MY DISMEMBERMENT SPECIALS. So naturally he wants to locate this witness, a model named Ingrid (Bridgette Nielsen at her most horror-movie hapless) and hack her into chum before she can finger him. And Cobra, see, he doesn’t want this, so you just know the two men – Slasher ‘n Cobra – are gonna butt their sweaty, furrowed brows.
What follows is the sort of wanton mayhem only the 1980s, mingled with Stallone, could possibly produce. People get impaled. Vehicles get wrecked. Millions of bullets get expended. And Sly grates out stone-faced one-liners while setting people on fire. Seriously, the last twenty or so minutes of this film feature a freaking WW2 movie level of violence, with what seems like hordes of motorcycle-riding psychos testing out the dubious theory that leather biker jackets can stop submachinegun rounds, and Bridgette Nielsen reminding us why her career lasted about as long as a Viagra erection (four hours if you believe the commercials). But don’t sweat it, folks, because what would traumatize you for life is just another day in the life of Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, a man so tough he slices his pizza with scissors!
COBRA is either a great awful movie or just a greatly awful one. Stallone, not exactly known for the subtlety of his worldview, is essentially remaking DIRTY HARRY here – even going so far as to cast two men who were in that film, Robinson and Reni Santoni – but the fact is, as iconic as Sly is, he’s no Clint Eastwood, and no amount of burning gasoline, spent gunpowder and roasting human flush can mask the stench coming off the crappy acting, horrible writing and submoronic plot of this film. The difference between a hugely entertaining bad movie like COMMANDO and one which causes you to hold your head in your hands and make feeble groaning noises is subtle, but it’s there, and COBRA too-often strays into the latter category, probably because Sly, unlike Arnold, did not know at this stage of his career the secret of how to make fun of himself and boast at the same time. But if you’re in the right mood – bloodthirsty, silly, 80s-nostalgic – you will probably enjoy the antics of Marion “Cobra” Cobretti…at least until you can lay your hands on a copy of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART TWO.