Movie Mind Says: Wait for Cable
If You Like This You Should Watch: Commando, The Condemned
Better Than: Demolition Man
Worse Than: First Blood, First Blood: Part II, Rambo III, Predator
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz
There are times when resurrecting a former hit film franchise works perfectly (ie. Rocky Balboa and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and then there are those times when it doesn’t (see: Rambo). In Rocky and Indy, we were reminded of how those characters could stand the test of time and why we couldn’t wait for them to come back to us. This time, we are simply yearning for the old times.
Just in case we don’t pick up on the lame “f**k the world” attitude old-man Rambo sports, he makes it crystal clear by saying… “f**k the world.” Stallone’s classic bad-ass glare was also replaced by a depressing “my-gerbil-just-died” look. As if the hangdog face wasn’t enough, we have to deal with Rambo’s incessant whining like a little girl. I guess Stallone is the only one to blame, being as how he also wrote and directed the film. It just makes me wonder how he could tie up Rocky’s legacy so clean and yet leave John Rambo worse off than before.
The film opens to Rambo living in the jungles just outside of war-torn Burma and working as a snake wrangler. Apparently, the most decorated war-vet never returned home and wants to live out his existence with no hope or reason for living. A small missionary group from a Christian church back in the US comes to Rambo for help navigating the jungles and rivers on their way to Burma. They have brave goals and worthy intentions by trying to help people in an area under incredible civil unrest. After five meaningful words from the token pretty girl of the group, Rambo reluctantly agrees to help them. They make it to the Burma village and witness utter genocide and are lucky to be taken captive and not killed. After being missing for too long, the leader of the church comes to Rambo in hopes of heading back into Burma to find them. Rambo is to lead a crack pack of mercenaries in hopes of rescuing the hostages. They are severely outnumbered (what else is new) but alas… Rambo has found something worth fighting for again.
The film attempts to show us a conflicted Rambo, one who is fighting what he is inside and what he has done in the past. Watching Rambo fight his inner-self is like listening to Bill & Ted debate the healthcare crisis. The reason we loved Rambo is because he could take on a whole army by himself, kill thousands, and still do the right thing. We don’t need to know if he ever felt bad about what he did. That’s not why we watched him, and that’s where the story derailed.
Once Rambo falls back into his shoot-first ask-questions later mentality, things improve slightly. However, as much as I can dig blood and gore and violence, there are only so many heads being blown off and bodies being ripped in half a guy can take. At first, the violence was merely startling and somewhat tolerable, but by the time of the “big showdown” it was almost laughable. We had already seen a throat ripped out, a body sliced in half, and little kids murdered brutally. Some may say they were attempting realism in shedding light on the genocide in Burma, but all it did was commercialize it by adding Hollywood violence. If that stuff really does go on there, it is atrocious, but damn-it, Rambo is not the film to expose it. There are enough message films out there without having to grin-and-bear-it through Stallone’s take on the world. Give me raw, brutal, and ruthless Rambo, not some wacked-out caricature of him holding a picket sign in front of Capitol Hill. The only saving grace was Stallone sparing us his HGH-infused man boobs since he surprisingly kept his shirt on the whole film.
The film is only an hour and twenty minutes, but it feels like an eternity. The story (or lack thereof) dragged on and on, which wouldn’t be so bad if we were getting Rambo in his prime. You may potentially enjoy the action scenes if you like B-movie horror flicks with laughable special effects. If you already own the Rambo trilogy, don’t bother adding the fourth one to the collection. Since it already smeared the legacy, you’re better off remembering the Rambo of old.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: Paul Schulze (aka Carmela Soprano’s close “friend”, Father Phil Intintola, from HBO’s The Sopranos) as missionary leader Michael Burnett, who leads the troop into war-torn Burma.
John J. Rambo: Any of you boys want to shoot, now’s the time. There isn’t one of us that doesn’t want to be someplace else. But this is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something. Your call.
Sarah Miller: Maybe you’ve lost your faith in people. But you must still be faithful to something. You must still care about something. Maybe we can’t change what is. But trying to save a life isn’t wasting your life, is it?
Lewis: God didn’t save you, we did.
Burnett: I have to report this. I know you think what you did was right, but taking a life is never right.
Sarah: I don’t know what to say.
John J. Rambo: Then you shouldn’t say anything, should you?
John J. Rambo: You know what you are. What you’re made of. War is in your blood. Don’t fight it. You didn’t kill for your country. You killed for yourself. God’s never gonna make that go away. When you’re pushed, killing’s as easy as breathing.
En-Joo: Try reading a paper redneck instead of sleeping under it.
Lewis: Oh dear, you really are an uptight bastard, aren’t ya? You can drop the thousand-yard stare. I’ve seen it all before, and I’m not impressed.