by Kevin Muller
John Rambo is a relic of an older and wilder time in cinema. He’s a former soldier who came home only to be thrown back into the world of violence and murder. The chaos of war runs through his veins. Eleven years ago, after a 20 year hiatus, Stallone, who was 62 at the time, came back with a kick ass action movie that was unforgiving with its level of gore. It was a great call back to the films of the 80s too. Now, the aging action star, who can still kick the ass of people more than half his age, is back with another story for his memorable action hero. Does he still have it?
At the start of the film, Rambo is leading a quiet life on a ranch, tending horses and living an unconventional family life. He isn’t married, but lives with Maria and her teenage granddaughter, Gabrielle. The young girl lost her mother to cancer and then her father to abandonment. She is constantly told that her father never cared for her or her mother, whom he never visited in the hospital during her final days, but she need closure by hearing it for him. John has been more of a father to her in her impressionable years, but that isn’t enough for her. When she sets out to cross the border into Mexico, she is taken by a local sex traffic ring and John must save her the only way he can, through chaos and lots of blood.
These films are all about brutal action. Yes, there has been always a slight commentary about the effects of war and the mental trauma it has on the human mind, but people come to these films to see Rambo serve a can of whoop ass. It is always fun to see a mentally disturbed, but brilliant soldier, come up with both creative and unforgiving ways on how to punish those around him. There has been talk about how Stallone uses this film as a political statement against people south of the border. That is just 100% pure bullshit. There aren’t any political statements, speeches, or rhetoric uttered in this film. We are just shown very bad men, who happen to be Mexican, cross our hero and basically dig their own graves. Unlike most films, the violence isn’t pulled back or censored. These awful men get what is coming to them and you can’t help to cheer at the torture that Rambo puts them through. The final 25 minutes of the film is so ridiculously over the top with blood, guts, body parts, intestines…you get the picture, that is becomes quite comical. Director Adrian Grunberg films this in a very straight forward and raw type of filmmaking style. The final confrontation, which takes place on the ranch, is a blast to watch and directed with fierceness not seen in many films today.
Even though this is standard action film, Grunberg could’ve used a bit more time to expand on some aspects of the film. The running time barely reaches 85 minutes, so the movie could’ve used more time to breathe. Gabrielle and Rambo’s relationship is quite convincing and young actress Yvette Monreal does give her role the right amount of emotional depth to make her someone the audience wants to be saved. Even the films two villains, The Martinez Brothers, come off as extremely thin, even for a film like this one. One of their stories ends so abruptly that we don’t really feel anything besides what the scene quickly shows us. Rambo also crosses paths with a woman, played by Paz Vega, who lost her sister to the same people that have Gabrielle. The role seemed like it was going to be more than it appears to be in the final product. There seemed to be a pretty well thought out emotional journey that we only get to see the top layers of. Again, most people don’t come to be emotionally moved, but stimulated with explosions and gunfire.
If this is the last time Stallone will play the character, Rambo: Last Blood is a decent effort that should’ve been a bit sharper than it is. Grunberg seems to be afraid of letting the emotion fully play out here. If you are looking for something that is a blast to watch, with one of the last remaining action stars out there, you should have a great time, but don’t go in expecting something as good as the older films. Still, it is nice to see a film that is just so bananas in execution.
I am giving Rambo: Last Blood a 3.5 out of 5 hairpieces!