By Vic Holtreman
Short version: If you're a fan of the previous films, Stallone's awesome new Rambo will blow you away.
After having seen some of the Rambo reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes and the overall rating of only 35%, I fully expected to be disappointed by Sylvester Stallone's second revisiting of an iconic character. So you can imagine that it came as a complete shock to me when I ended up loving it.
Rambo opens with real footage of the nightmarish abuses that are currently going on in Burma. It's very disturbing and at the very least I believe that Stallone is hoping that this will draw attention to what's going on over there with the military murdering innocent men, women and children on a daily basis.
From there the film cuts to John Rambo in the Thai jungle (Thailand borders Burma) where he is out with a local man wrangling cobras. The local town's main attraction involves shows were men taunt cobras, pythons and other dangerous snakes. It seems that he has been living there for a long time - living a spartan, simple existence among the local people.
A group of missionaries shows up at the local village, hoping that he will take them upriver into Burma to deliver medical supplies and assistance. Rambo asks them if they're bringing weapons and they say "no." At that point he refuses them multiple times, saying that without weapons they can't change anything. However eventually the woman in the group (Sarah, played by Julie Benz) appeals to him and convinces him to escort them in his small boat.
Sarah ends up being the only one in the group that he really respects.
Soon after getting underway they come across river pirates and it doesn't take long for ol' John to be drawn reluctantly into violence once again in order to protect the missionaries in general and Sarah in particular. Suffice it to say that Rambo has not lost any of his edge in the 20 years that have passed since the last film.
I don't think I'll be spoiling anything if I tell you that of course the missionaries are captured and that they need some serious rescuing. The twist here is that Rambo doesn't go it alone: a band of mercenaries are actually the intended rescuers and he is taking them upriver to find the missionaries.
Among the mercenaries are a couple of interesting characters, one of which kind of reminded me of myself on a really cranky day. :-)
Make no mistake: Rambo is incredibly violent and graphic. If this bothers you, this film is not for you - but if like myself, you believe that if violence is portrayed in a film it should be realistic and disturbing, then Rambo delivers in spades.
Stallone's latest, and no doubt final addition to the franchise lives up to the previous three perfectly. He brings the same life weariness to John Rambo here that he brought to Rocky Balboa in that film that was released last year.
Sure, it has some stereotypical characters and moments, but that barely detracts from the overall experience of the film, which will leave you with your jaw dropped several times during the movie.
Rambo is a mighty fine closing chapter for the character with a dose of social awareness to boot.