When I first heard they were making this movie, I laughed, and then I groaned. I thought, “Okay, I’ll give them Rocky Balboa, but now Rambo? That’s going to the well one too many times.”
Then I saw the ridiculous trailer. It looked like it was homemade with insanity-inducing violence. Seriously, Rambo rips a guy’s throat out? With his hand? (Sorry to spoil that one for you.)
I made fun of it relentlessly to my friends, but because I have a morbid curiosity, I had to rent it … you know, just to see.
By the way, I love First Blood. I thought it resonated emotionally, the acting was good, and the story was both realistic and relevant. I just wanted to get that out of the way so you all don’t think I’m some sort of John Rambo hater. The sequels didn’t have the soul of First Blood, and after the third one I really thought it was time to give it a rest-thus, my mocking of the fourth installment.
That being said, my expectations were so low Pluto would need to look down to see them.
And, I think because of that, I actually enjoyed Rambo. I expected garbage and got … well, not treasure, but certainly not garbage.
You know the story: Naïve missionaries and innocent native citizens are unjustly taken prisoner by soldiers in Myanmar, which is a very real predicament in that country. Rambo had told them not to go, and when he hears there will be no rescue effort but for a group of mercenaries hired by the families of the victims, he tags along as more than just the boat pilot. Of course, it’s Rambo, so he rescues them, but not without a body count higher than Sly’s gross profit from earlier movies.
Sly Stallone directed Rambo himself, and he did so using shaky, terse shots that were both disturbing and mesmerizing. The violence was nonstop and very realistic, so much so that even the most desensitized of viewers may be taken aback. One thing is for sure: Rambo is fast-paced and action-packed and not quite like anything else I’ve seen. While the trailer looked homemade, that quality worked for the feature-length film, making us associate what we saw with real footage.
The story was rather straightforward and simple, but I admire Stallone for going with a location for his character where horrible things really are happening every day. It took guts for him to put himself out there like that, and, if nothing else, perhaps it helped raise awareness.
I don’t think Rambo said twenty words in the whole movie, but that was by design. He is the definitive loner, after all. I especially found the end of the movie poignant and a nice send-off for a character who has been in pop-culture’s psyche for three decades.
If you liked First Blood, you’ll find Rambo tolerable, but be ready for ultra-graphic violence.