Rambo: Last Blood

Posted: September 30, 2019 in Film reviews
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Directed by Adrian Grunberg. Starring Sylvester Stallone.

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Years have passed since John Rambo (Stallone) last saw combat in Burma. He now lives on a horse ranch in Arizona with an old friend Maria (Adriana Barraza) and her daughter Gabriela (Yvette Monreal). When Gabriela says she wants to visit Mexico to see her estranged father, both Maria and Rambo strongly counsel against it, but without telling them Gabriela crosses the border where she’s betrayed by an old friend and kidnapped by a group of cartel sex traffickers.

When he realises where she’s gone, Rambo crosses the border to find her, setting off a chain of violence that will see him take up arms once more, perhaps for the last time.

It’s sometimes hard to recall that First Blood was a damning anti-war film, a movie about how America chose to forget its Vietnam veterans. Of course, every Rambo film since has been very different. In the second film Rambo gets to refight Vietnam, and win this time, while in the third he teams up with the, er, Taliban to fight evil Russkies in Afghanistan. Then after a gap of 20 years Rambo returned to save some missionaries held captive by Burmese soldiers.

First film aside the franchise has always glorified violence and leaned towards jingoism, but this has, for the most part, been tempered by a certain level of comic book violence. Last Blood pitches the franchise well over the edge, a cheap and nasty exploitation flick trading in caricatures and lowest common denominator film making. I genuinely felt like I needed a shower after watching it.

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This is a film for people who thought Taken wasn’t quite grim enough when it comes to depicting the sexual exploitation of woman, a film that treats the abuse of a female character as nothing more than a plot device to get it’s titular hero mad enough to dispense some righteous anger. A film, presumably, aimed at people who vote Trump, with its depiction of Mexicans as, for the most part, vile rapists and murderers, and shows disdain for the border by having Rambo drive over it with ease. I can definitely imagine Donald getting his rocks off watching this and I’m surprised Rambo didn’t don a red baseball cap.

The violence is brutal, with a scene involving a man’s collar bone that’s especially wince inducing, and at times it isn’t an easy watch. The final act, where Rambo lures the cartel to their doom, is vaguely enjoyable, but even here the film feels flat. There’s never any sense of danger. Rambo sets some neat boobytraps and his enemies oblige him by stumbling blindly into them, before he gets final revenge against the head honcho. It reminds me somewhat of that scene in Spectre where Bond escapes Blofeld’s lair by shooting a series of henchmen who obligingly step into his sights so he can kill them one by one. It’s as if we’re watching someone play Rambo the computer game, only on easy.

Film Review - Rambo: Last Blood

The direction of workmanlike, and there’s little or no characterisation at work here. Some vague nods to Rambo’s PTSD are quickly swept aside, and it doesn’t even have the courage of its convictions right at the end. It’s a shame given we know Stallone can do better.

The end credits are perhaps the best bit, because they showcase all the other (better) Rambo films.

Nasty, obvious trash. Avoid.

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