What if I told you the critics were upset about the latest “Rambo” movie? Would you think you had woken up in 1985? I mean, they always hated Rambo. Maybe not the Rambo of First Blood, where besides being an unstoppable killing machine, he’s also suicidal. But the smash hit sequels (full disclosure, I dipped out after the second one, which I enjoyed). But Stallone had an uncanny eye for ’80s-era American patriotism: We’d take our hits, but we’d keep on going—because no one else is going to fight for freedom. For critics who find America embarrassing and wish it would just go quietly into the global miasma, all of Stallone’s movies are problematic.
So, let’s just set aside the frankly incoherent (and utterly banal) accusations of racism and look at this movie for what it is: A pulpy farewell to a beloved character. Well, probably a farewell. And sort of beloved. Yeah, I think beloved.
Rambo’s a guy constantly confronted with injustice. And his solution to that injustice is to kill nearly everyone.
There’s actually not a ton to write here. The various sites say this movie runs 89 minutes long. No, it does not. I timed it, and it was 79 minutes from opening scene to first credit. It may have had ten minutes credits, but actual content, you’re looking at a very, very fast story.
The plot is simple enough: Rambo is living his best life out in a farm on the border. His niece, whom he has raised for the past ten years like his own daughter, goes south of the border to find her father. In reality she’s set up and trafficked. This is horrifying.
When Rambo finds out, he goes down to rescue her and ends up getting his ass kicked by the cartel. The cartel leaves him alive so he can live with the knowledge of his niece’s abuse.
First he takes revenge. Then he sets up his farm as a honeypot for the poor, unsuspecting slavers.
They never really have a chance. Rambo’s never really in danger after the first scene. We couldn’t accept it as an audience, probably. We’ve seen him running around foreign countries for years dispatching people on their home turf. The idea that he could be taken on his own land seems preposterous. When you realize that Rambo movies are basically horror films where you overtly root for the slasher, it all kind of makes sense.
So, yeah, not a lot of surprises here. Stallone can still act, though. He plays Rambo entirely different from Rocky, and I liked that a lot. At this late date, both characters are eclipsed by Stallone himself, but he doesn’t phone it in. Rambo is damaged in a way that Rocky (for all his hardships) is not. There are other people in the movie but it hardly matters much. Overall the film did okay, not great, so this may truly be the “last blood”.
The Boy liked it quite a bit. I did, too. The Flower was taken aback by some of the violence but otherwise liked it.