Monday, September 23, 2019

Rambo: Last Blood (2019)



Everyone has one more fight in them.

Movie Review:

It's been eleven years since we got a Rambo film. I don't think anybody truly expected we would get another, but then Stallone threw that photo of him in the Sherriff cowboy hat on Instagram a few months ago and now we have the fifth and presumably final film in the series. Rambo 2008 was a glorious sight to behold in the old ultra-violence; how does Last Blood compare?

John Rambo has retired to a farm on the border of Mexico (I presume) with his housekeeper or something, and her daughter Gabrielle. He must be neighbours with Enrique from Terminator 2; in fact they must be good buddies and share tunnel-making tips. Both seem to like storing an armoury underground, anyway. Rambo ups the game though with his own freaking iron smelter. And the machetes and crossbows on the wall. And then he invites kids around for a cave rave! Crazy ol' Uncle John. I digress..

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John loves Gabrielle as if she were his own daughter, but she wants to go to Mexico to find her real father. John tells her it's a bad idea but in the cover of darkness she goes anyway. One thing leads to another and she's sold to a sex trafficking ring run by the Martinez brothers. Rambo tries to rescue her and is beaten to within an inch of his life and saved by a reporter and nursed back to health. I don't even need to recap the rest of it to you, but needless to say once recuperated he sets out to get bloody, brutal revenge. Rambo on a rampage is a man you don't want to get in the way of.

This was a solid DTV action movie that happened to play at the cinema. It has that Nu Image/Millennium flavour that the previous Rambo had - as do the The Expendables and Olympus Has Fallen franchises - which is why I get that regular cinema goers haven't been enamoured by most of those films, including Rambo: Last Blood. The dialogue can be wooden. The plots far from original. Clichés and stereotypes abound. People cry 'racism' at time-honoured-80s tropes of Cartel bad guys (or Russians, or terrorists from Madeupistan, etc.). These films speak to the honest action fan who just wants explosions and violence delivered in a way they are used to. The Guardian said the film was cheap and nasty carnage. Your point being?! I knew what I was signing up for.

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As you can tell from above, this is Action Movie Standard Plot #12 with all the usual trimmings. That's no bad thing, but if you expect Rambo in the jungle, or god forbid, a REAL movie like First Blood, you will be understandably disappointed. Last Blood will appeal far more to fans of previous Nu Image outings than it will fans of First Blood unless you really have a hankering for the character and the weapons building montage (which of course, you get in this film too). This has more in common with Dolph Lundgren's Skin Trade than Rambo 2008.

Depending what cut of the film you watch (there's apparently a US cut and International cut) you will either see the opening ten minutes pre-plot or not. John Rambo volunteers to help in emergencies, a bit like the Australian State Emergency Service I guess, except on a horse. He rescues a hiker in torrential rain but can't save two others, and for that he beats himself up over it comparing it to how he couldn't save his buddies in Vietnam. The tortured past of the Vietnam Vet is a recurring theme in Rambo films, and it is no different in Last Blood. He has flashbacks and hears voices. It's probably why he's built this underground tunnel system on his farm.

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There's a good build up with Rambo’s tunnels. I mean, why would you build this if not for use in the third act of a movie? Yeah. It sets itself up for its purpose, and that's more than fine given the treatment we got in the final fifteen minutes. God DAMN that was a savage blast of violence. This is why you are here folks, for the comeuppance. All the trap setting you expect from John Rambo is amplified when it's in his own backyard. It's like Kevin from Home Alone, but rated R and playing for keeps. This is seriously some of the most brutal action violence I've seen in a mainstream picture. Very creative deaths are dished out to cartel members and you will be cheering the screen as each are taken down. Literal ribs are broken and stick out of chests. It's glorious, and that's only the beginning.

So is it better than Rambo 2008? No, it is not. It's not even really a Rambo film, if you expect jungles and soldiers. But it is a solid revenge action film with Sylvester Stallone and the final bloodbath is worth the price of entry. A solid B+ from me.


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You know that old line of “I’ll rip your heart out and show it to you before you die”? Yeah.