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MOVIE REVIEWS: FTN reviews Rambo: Last Blood

September 28th, 2019 by John Wright Comments

Rambo: Last Blood (18)
Directed by: Adrian Grunberg
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega & Yvette Monreal
Running time: 1hr 29mins

Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.

Let’s just start this review with the number 73.

Sylvester Stallone is 73 years old. From a physical standpoint alone, to do what he does in movies at this age is beyond belief. No matter if you are a fan of his work or not, the guy deserves universal respect and he is showing no signs of slowing down in his legendary career.

So yeah, I’m a big Sly fan, but I will try to review this one with a fair and open mind as it hasn’t been getting the best reviews.

Its been 11 years since we last saw our troubled war vet John Rambo rescue a bunch of missionaries in Burma, returning home to his father’s ranch.

Time has moved on and Rambo now lives in somewhat peace with his foster family of Maria, who worked the farm for decades, and Gabrielle, a college-bound young girl who they cherish as their own daughter.

He clearly loves these ladies and they keep him grounded, it’s only when he sleeps alone in a maze of underground tunnels made by himself that he can truly be himself, surrounded by an old, familiar environment, hidden away from an outside world he cannot control.

Through a bad-apple of a friend, Gabrielle has located her abusive father in Mexico and wants to go face him before she can move on in life; Rambo and Maria plead with her not to go, knowing the dangers for an under-age girl alone in Mexico and, despite agreeing, Gabrielle makes the decision to go and sneaks off.

As you can tell, things go from bad to worse, and that bad-apple friend has betrayed her and sold her off to two brothers running a sex trafficking and prostitution empire and when Rambo finds out, it’s a rampage of violence to rescue her.

This movie is really two movies in one: Taken and Home Alone, albeit very dark, brutal and insanely violent versions of them both.

The first act is deliberately slow and made for character and story-building, possibly to make Rambo’s first violent act so jarring. From there, the violence escalates as Rambo’s quest suffers many defeats and is saved by an independent journalist on her own quest of revenge against the brothers and their horrific business, but is ultimately a lazy plot-device with no real purpose.

The final act is a whirlwind of fury and blood, to eliminate the evildoers in the most agonising ways possible.

The movie does follow a similar beat and structure to the previous installment, with gratuitous violence escalating to levels bordering on the ridiculous.

This is not a happy movie: Mexico is most likely unfairly portrayed as a hell hole, with trouble waiting around every corner, even the Mexican police are shown as lawless scum that rape underage girls, drugged and forced into brothels that wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones.

There is a primal satisfaction of watching the bad guys meet their end at the unforgiving hands of our hero, but even Sly seems to have trouble trying to show a likeable side to this character who is almost seeking death as the peace he needs and thinks he deserves.

Wisely, we do see him show his age and limitations and not the unstoppable force he once was, having to rely on his skills, wit, experience and blunt force power to win the day.

That aside, there isn’t really much to identify him as Rambo (long hair is gone, no headband) and this movie could easily be something completely separate.

The ending feels quite empty and the inevitable victory is a hollow one.

This movie was a good opportunity to close the book on this character and a few changes of the plot would have made this a much more satisfying movie. Instead we are left with the possibility of another chapter and you have to wonder, what story is left to tell?

A fun watch for action-aficionados wanting some forgettable entertainment and is better than some of the overly-negative, bandwagon-jumping reviews out there… but not as powerful or memorable as the previous movie.

3 out of 5 Nerds

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Originally forged in the steelworks of Teesside (imagine the reverse of the end of Terminator 2), John is a self-confessed 80s child and movie geek and he indulges his passions for movies by occasionally appearing in them. When he is not doing that, he is investigating the paranormal with either his West Midlands or Berkshire buddies, or planning another Due South fan convention in Canada. John will depart our UK shores in 2014 to live in Australia and wrestle crocs (the shoes, not the animal), but he aims to contribute to FTN as much as he can...