Rambo: Last Blood review - John Rambo is booby-trapped to the grave

Topics Hollywood | movie review

Rambo: Last Blood
Sylvester Stallone is 73 and living dangerously. His enviable shape remains an enigma to men half his age. There’s every reason why scores of his iron-pumping fans should rush to the nearest theatre to catch him in action as John Rambo, almost certainly for one last time. Rambo’s guided rage, virtually unintelligible but still charming accent, and desolate eyes have become totemic for the true-blue patriot devastated by unspeakable violence.

Stallone’s characters have ripened with age over the years, oscillating between clenched-face soldier and battle-hardened thought leader, from Barney Ross leading Creed II was a bittersweet moment for his fans, but one that brought the story of a sagacious warrior to a satisfactory culmination. Rambo was scheduled to follow suit.

But unlike Balboa, the machine-gun wielding Rambo, a Vietnam war-veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was never meant to get a clean exit. “People like me, we live in the past” is more a trademark of Stallone’s stoic characters than Balboa alone. Even after a decade of his last tryst with death in Rambo (2008), we did not expect him to rock in his chair with a pint of cold beer at his family farm without running flashbacks of barbaric violence in his head. We knew he was cursed.

But director Adrian Grunberg (of Mel Gibson-starrer Rambo: Last Stand.

Hard to fathom what makes Rambo’s teenaged niece go looking for her wife-beating father in a Trumpian cliché of Mexico — one full of badass, tattooed hombres, who just buy and sell drugs and women. Not that Rambo was happy breaking in wild horses at his Arizona farm or maintaining his maze of tunnels or welding knives for gifts, but to bring the full force of misfortune upon him by taking away his almost-daughter, Gabrielle, played by Yvette Monreal, is turning Rambo into a vapid Taken. But thank god Grunberg is not completely lost in the alleyways of badland.

The man versus cartel has some gut-wrenching gore in the form of hammer rampage and celebratory beheadings when Rambo goes on a revenge spree. His unique way of suppressing emotion fits the grindhouse. The new, ageing Rambo is a stony Logan packed into one grand daddy.

More realism is infused in an obscenely exaggerated Mexico through the ordeal of Gabrielle in a whorehouse. She does too little to be judged as an actor, but a more established Paz Vega, who plays an independent journalist in Mexico, doesn’t get her due screen time, either. There’s unflinching focus on the grieving man.

But an hour and thirty nine minutes seem too little time for Rambo to absorb his sorrow, snap into his killing self, rig his Arizona farm with mines and home-made booby traps, and dismember his enemies, who never used their heads anyway. “I will rip your heart out just like you ripped out mine,” he tells the chief villain, and literally follows through on his word in the most mechanical way. In the end, he finds his father’s rocking chair on the patio while an unmoving voice-over guides the audience towards the exit door. Even the montage of stills from the legendary franchise seem haphazardly put together.

The problem right from the start is a unidirectional plot, bad writing, heavy stereotyping and the misplaced dependence on gory violence over and above the hubristic belief that superstar Rambo does not need character development. Rambo: Last Stand>is a failure at clean and jerk. It finishes off a heroic character in the franchise’s trademark style but one that is bereft of depth, thought or historical significance. Like the villains are mindlessly lured into Rambo’s booby-trapped tunnels, the fans will swarm the theatres, too, and be collectively disappointed.

The legend of Rambo deserves a marathon watch over a nice weekend. Just stream the glorified bloodbath when you are done with the movies.

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