After his niece gets kidnapped in Mexico, Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.
In our horrendously politically-correct times, where every filmmaker feels the need to imbue their narrative with a Relevant Theme, it’s refreshing to see an old-school actioner like Adrian Grunberg’s Rambo: Last Blood. Political correctness be damned. There are no messages here that will resonate with the current “hashtag” movements. This is a straight-up, no-holds-barred revenge flick starring a leathery Sylvester Stallone – albeit one that struggles to keep an already-thin story together. The titular character’s mythical status, along with that insane finale, slightly elevates it above heaps of similar fare. Shut your brain off and enjoy.
“…confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills…”
Now, I know a lot of critics are bashing this film for its gratuitous portrayal of violence. Would have they been kinder if Last Blood were less nihilistic? Judging by, say, the uber-violent John Wick’s critical reception, that’s not necessarily the case. (Sure, the balletic choreography of Wick is about as far removed from Rambo’s grungy/grimy carnage – but to each their own, right?) To reiterate: there are about as many sociopolitical/spiritual/ existential motifs to be found in the former films as in the latter – read: none. So what is it, really, about Wick’s highly-extended journey of revenge that places it ranks above good ol’ Rambo’s grisly retribution?
As for “dumb”? Both of the cinematic series are filled with plot holes large enough to smuggle an entire drug cartel through. And yes, in Rambo’s case it’s especially disappointing, given the character’s legendary standing in the pantheon of action films. Couldn’t Stallone, who co-wrote the latest (and hopefully final) chapter, come up with something a little more original than “niece-gets-kidnapped-and-uncle-embarks-on-crusade-of-vengeance”? And if simplicity is key, then how were all the glaring inconsistencies overlooked? Folks travel back and forth across the Mexican border with guns and dead bodies like they’re in the Schengen states. Characters do things that make no sense. Our hero’s niece ventures into hell looking for her a*****e father. Rambo totally lets her go, when it’s obvious where she’s headed; he later shows up to a fight clearly unprepared, yet gets spared for no reason. Carmen (Paz Vega), a journalist, appears at crucial moments, leaving one to wonder why they didn’t just call her character Deus Ex Machina and get on with it. Oh, and what is up with Rambo’s elaborate, labyrinthine bunker/tunnel?
"…an unapologetic piece of trashy entertainment such as this surfaces amongst all the sterilized #bullshit."