Sylvester Stallone, like him or not, deserves some credit. He resurrected his Rocky franchise last year to largely critical praise (although I wasn’t part of that) and now he has brought back the 1980’s most iconic action hero. Not bad for a guy who recently crossed age 60. With Rocky Balboa, Stallone took a more solemn approach to the character as the boxer ages but must still prove his worth to the boxing world. Rambo, simply put, is old school action filmmaking at its best. That’s why it will be so jarring to this new generation, who’s used to fluff PG-13 exercises that only have the almighty dollar in mind.
Rambo (Stallone) is now living a quiet existence in Thailand. He tames cobras for a living and wants nothing to do with the surrounding warzones. He has largely lost faith in mankind, but soon finds himself leading a group of Christian aid workers upriver into Burma. Rambo warns the peace keepers of the danger and genocide that awaits them, but his words go unheard – until the group is kidnapped. Now, with the help of a group of hired mercenaries, Rambo enters Burma to rescue the workers.
The film is unbelievably over-the-top in just about every category one can think of. The violence, while disturbingly real when it comes to the details of genocide (Stallone spares nothing as kids are shot, burned, and mutilated; women are raped; and men are forced to cross streams filled with land mines), turns borderline-comedic once Rambo takes the helm. It’s an all-out explosion of severed limbs, exploding heads, decapitations, eviscerations, and bullet wounds the size of dinner plates. If you’re in it for the action, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed.
Where Stallone falters a bit is in his dialogue and message. Filled with catchphrases and taglines (“live for nothing, or die for something,” “when you’re pushed, killing’s is easy as breathing”), Stallone pretty much grunts his way through the whole film. The purposes of violence are also discussed, as none of the aid workers believe in killing. The problem is that there’s so much killing on both sides that sizing up what’s good and bad is a listless chore.
But let’s be honest. Who’s going to this movie looking for deep messages? This flick is about Rambo confronting and cutting down evil in his own specialized, one-man-army way. In that respect, Rambo delivers big-time and simultaneously gives a big, blood-covered middle finger to all the neutered action movies of late. Rambo is most certainly not for everyone, but for those who miss their action heroes of the past twenty years, it’s a must-see.
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Length: 93 Minutes
Rating: R for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images and language.
Theatrical Release: January 25, 2008
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Written by: Sylvester Stallone. Characters by David Morrell.
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Reynaldo Gallegos, Jake La Botz