February 03, 2008

"Rambo" review

If you're a fan of Sly Stallone's "Rambo" flicks, you ought to go and check out the final installment (some 20 years after the last, "Rambo III"). But be warned: "Rambo" is much more [realistically] violent than any of its predecessors.

"Rambo" has the protagonist living in Thailand catching cobras for a living(!). But, a group of church aid workers arrives and wants his help in getting them to war-torn Burma. He refuses (actually with good reason -- the place is a hell-hole), so the workers get a mercenary group to assist them. Naturally, things go awry, and guess who comes to the rescue? From here on out it's standard Rambo fare -- a lot of blood and guts, action and mayhem. The film is only 85 minutes, and like "Cloverfield" it's hard to justify paying $10 to see such a film. And, like "Cloverfield," I thought more could have been done with the ending.


At film's end we witness Rambo walking down a country road in what has to be back in the United States. Indeed it is. He's literally come home: He stops at the end of a ranch's driveway and the mailbox reads "R. Rambo" -- his father. He jaunts down said driveway and then the credits roll. But ... why can't we witness the reunion with his dad? A brief discussion of past years' events and thoughts?

It sure seemed Sly had "Rocky Balboa" in mind when he made "Rambo." But whereas "Balboa" was a winner, "Rambo" is really no different than those that came before it. In fact, if you're gonna watch any Rambo flick, go with the very first -- "First Blood." In that, Sly is a [fairly] recently arrived-home vet from 'Nam going around the country seeking out some of his war buddies. When he gets to a secluded hamlet in the Pacific northwest, hick sheriff Brain Dennehy lets Sly know he doesn't want "his kind" in his town. Rambo of course blows off Dennehy's "advice," which leads to the former's arrest. Needless to say, Dennehy and his police "force" learn the hard way what it means to f*** around with a decorated Green Beret!!

"First Blood" works well because it was made only six years after Vietnam's end. It's also the best acted of the four films, and has the best plot. "Rambo II" was the big money-maker of the franchise, however. Made in 1985, it features Rambo being sent back to 'Nam to track down reports of American POWs still being held there. The plot is predictable, the characters thin and shallow, and the acting pretty much atrocious (especially that of Rambo's short-lived love interest, Julia Nickson-Soul). But, however, the action is killer (literally)! The third film (incredibly titled -- get this -- "Rambo III") is as forgettable as that incredibly drunk hook-up you had in college with that absolutely heinous chick (or dude). It takes place in Afghanistan -- back when the Taliban were our buddies!! -- where Sly has to rescue his former 'Nam commander.

Posted by Hube at February 3, 2008 10:19 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I saw the new Rambo, too. It takes a lot to affect me, but that early scene of the village massacre still gets to me. Absolutely chilling, graphic and realistic. I'm surprised the film got away with an R-rating without having to trim more. I'm torn on the Rambo series. Like you said, the first was the best. But I still love the second and third if only for the ridiculous amount of explosions and testosterone on display. This fourth film was the most graphic, but it seemed much more muted than the others. Almost the anti-war war film.

I heard the reason they ended the film so abrubtly is because there's already talk of a fifth entry taking place on US soil.

Posted by: Mike Matthews at February 3, 2008 02:14 PM

Yes Rambo against the AARP or against the evil over 55 land barons :)

Posted by: Mark at February 5, 2008 05:39 AM