Sunday, February 4, 2018
California around Christmas. A sect led by the Night Slasher is randomly attacking and killing civilians across the area. One of their members enters a supermarket and takes all the people there as hostages in order to attract the media, but he is stopped and killed by Cobra, a special forces agent who does the dirty work for the police. When the sect starts persecuting a witness of their murders, Ingrid, she is taken under the custody and protection by Cobra. When they are attacked in a desolate motel, Cobra uses his gun to go into a big confrontation with the criminals, and kills the Night Slasher in a factory.
One of those 'hard boiled' action films from the 80s, which sprung like mushrooms after the rain, "Cobra" is objectively not quite a good film, yet it is still a fun 'guilty pleasure'. It is a decent alternative to "Dirty Harry", presenting the same kind of "tough, but fair" enforcer of justice who just treats people the way they deserve: he treats peaceful people with peace, and violent people with violence. It is interesting to notice what kind of an influence Reagan's conservative era had on "Cobra", since it follows a right-wing perception that violence is getting out of hand because the administration is treating criminals too leniently, giving them too much rights instead of simply stopping them with people like Stallone's Cobra. By content, it inserts untypical villains, displaying a critique of "Herostratus-fame" in a time when the bad guys only want to gain fame in the media through violence, advocating that too much liberty leads to anarchy and chaos.
This is inconsistent and underdeveloped, especially in the subplot where the sect is persecuting Ingrid for being an eyewitness to their murders (if they want media attention, why suddenly try to hide themselves?). The opening shots are aesthetically pleasant, showing a silhouette of a man riding a motorcycle against a red background, who is such a villain that he already shows his intention by parking on the handicapped spot before entering a supermarket, while the opening narration slyly states: "In America, there's a burglary every 11 seconds. An armed robbery every 65 seconds. A violent crime every 25 seconds. A murder every 24 minutes. And 250 rapes a day." Stallone's Cobra is interesting at the beginning when he displays a few eccentric touches (for instance, he uses scissors to cut his pizza (!) at home) and the finale when he says a few cynical lines ("This is where the law stops and I start, sucker!"), yet is an overall bland and standard character throughout the middle part, which leaves the film lacking highlights. It would have worked even better if it had more of such irony, yet it is a fairly solid film on its own, with an interesting action finale involving orange trees and a suspenseful siege of a motel.