Rambo: Last Blood

As an unabashed fan of action films, I am well-acquainted with Sylvester Stallone’s iconic Rambo. I saw Rambo III as a child in the theater when I was way too young for it, and have since seen parts 4 and 5 in the theater, as well. Rambo: Last Blood promises to be the final film in the franchise. Of course, Stallone promised that Rocky Balboa was the final Rocky film, yet the character showed up in two more films, so it remains to be seen whether or not there will be a sixth Rambo film. Anyway, how did the latest Rambo outing hold up?

Taking place 10 years after the previous film, Rambo is living on his childhood ranch in Arizona. He has a surrogate family which includes a young girl he raised as if she was his own daughter. Rambo has settled into an idyllic life training horses and digging preposterously labyrinthine underground tunnels. Naturally, Rambo isn’t going to live out the rest of his life in peace and harmony. The girl discovers her biological father is living in Mexico, so she crosses the border to reconnect with him. Her plan back-fires, and she ends up the victim of a sex trafficking ring. Rambo springs into action to get her back.

Rambo: Last Blood plays out like a hybrid of Taken and Skyfall, but manages to be far worse than either of them. Rambo goes on a rampage killing sex traffickers to get the girl back, and he ultimately leads them back to the Arizona ranch to kill scores of bad guys with brutal booby traps in his tunnels. The action is graphic, and more akin to a slasher film than any of the previous Rambo films. The goriness doesn’t prop up the themes of the film, or provide some kind of underlying commentary on the horrors of violence, no, it is just graphically violent for the sake of graphic violence. This is a far cry from First Blood, where Rambo also used booby traps, but didn’t kill anyone.

The script is shoddy. Characters are introduced only to do nothing and never show up again. For example, a Mexican woman aids Rambo early in the film, he agrees to help her, and then she never shows up again. Same thing with the Mexican doctor who stitches up Rambo.

The dialogue is ham-fisted. Nearly every line is a cliché. There is a pointless narration that sounds out of place. The previous four Rambo films didn’t have narration, so why now does this film? It adds nothing, and Stallone seems less invested in it than Harrison Ford did in Blade Runner’s narration.

The editing is dreadful. The film moves too fast. Normally, most movies could be improved with tighter editing and a shorter running time. This film, however, blazes through scene after scene, trying to get to the credits at break-neck speed. The movie could have been improved with a longer running time, allowing the script to breathe, and giving the characters a chance to develop. This film would rather be a torture-revenge-fantasy porn instead.

Perhaps most egregiously is there is not a compelling main villain. The sex trafficking ring does have a leader, but he has little screen time. He has maybe five lines, and I don’t think he even has a name. How is our iconic action hero supposed to have a great final film without a great villain to square off against? This villain is so fucking generic we don’t even really grow to hate him. He has no personality, he has no motivations, we are supposed to hate him because Rambo is angry at him.

Perplexingly, I’ve seen people complain that this movie has right-wing politics. The original film, First Blood, and to an extent the second film, had political undertones to be sure, but they were left-wing. This film serves as nothing more than an excuse to see Rambo fuck some shit up. It has no political aspirations whatsoever. You might say it’s anti-Mexican, but it’s not. Rambo’s surrogate family, the woman who helps him, and the doctor are all Mexican (or Mexican-American) and are all portrayed in a positive light. In fact, there is a scene where Rambo ponders the American-Mexican border fence from the Mexican side, and then blasts through it with his truck, perhaps as a slight dig against the notion of a border wall. But maybe that’s a stretch, after all, this is a pretty brain-dead movie.

Over the decades, the point of the Rambo character has been forgotten. As being an anti-war vehicle, as being a pro-humanity vehicle, he has shifted into an invincible god of war, spreading carnage wherever he goes. Even as an action junkie, I find myself incredibly disappointed that this movie’s action serves no purpose other than satiating some studio executive’s bloodlust. What was the point of the film, anyway? Rambo kills a lot of guys, and ends up worse at the end, having lost everything and learned nothing. It’s a movie with maximum violence and not an ounce of thoughtfulness. Rambo deserved a better final movie than this. And since Stallone keeps coming back to old franchises, let’s hope he does a sixth Rambo movie that actually ends the series on a high note.

Verdict: Shitty

Series Ranking: First Blood > Rambo > Rambo: First Blood Part II > Rambo III > Rambo: Last Blood

4 Responses to “Rambo: Last Blood”

  1. 1 Natálio Blixen
    December 10, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Considering this back alley abortion of a movie, Stallone should DEFINITELY try to redeem himself while he still can. And he better make it snappy. We can’t exactly wait another decade or so for Rambo 6, you know.

  2. 3 Rodney Twelftree
    December 17, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Totally agree mate, this is an obnoxious watch for sure. I was just astonished at how mindless it all was, lacking an ounce of character development, given Stallone’s recent well-made productions where you can tell they’ve put thought into making the characters on-screen somewhat human and fleshed out. Here, it’s just flesh exploding and that becomes tiresome without something emotional to latch onto.

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December 2019


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