Dir: Sylvester Stallone, 2008
This review contains spoilers
In the twenty years since Sylvester Stallone last donned the red headband, his movies haven’t, to put it kindly, rocked the world.
Sure, there was a few good ones, like Demolition Man, Copland and Rocky Balboa. Even D-Tox had it’s moments. But, by and large, they were forgettable and regrettable (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, anyone?).
Returning to a franchise that ended two decades ago, smacks of desperation and a desire to relive your time in the limelight.
Understandably, it was with trepidation that the public reacted to a sixth Rocky film. However, the Italian Stallion proved the naysayers wrong, and Rocky Balboa turned out to be an excellent movie that filled us with hope and excitement, when Stallone announced that he was resurrecting his quintessential character, John Rambo.
Living a lonely existence in Thailand, Rambo (Stallone) keeps himself to himself, making money by catching snakes and ferrying people on a motorboat.
A group of Christian missionaries are abducted by the Burmese army, and it’s up to Rambo and a team of mercenaries to rescue them.
Certainly, the most political of the series, Stallone doesn’t hold back in showing the atrocities of the Burmese army. Rape, child molestationj, massacres, murdering for fun. It’s all here, in gruesome detail.
The last in the tetralogy, Rambo is, by far, the most violent and disturbing. Where the previous entries had a slight comic book tone, this one removes that and portrays an authentic slice of realism.
But, it’s this realism that makes the violence so horrific and upsetting. Stallone, deftly, avoids the horrifying nature from being exploitative and wants us to be repulsed. This tactic works, as a feeling of sickness flows through you when you see what the villagers have to go through. A scene where the army throw landmines into a river, and force innocent people to run backwards and forwards through it, is unforgettable. Another, is the attack on the village. Randomly murdering the inhabitants and setting homes alight, a member of the army snatches a mother’s child from her and throws him into the flames.
Rambo, satisfyingly, completes the circle of Rambo’s life. After years of knowing only death and destruction, the ex-Green Beret is decimated and a truly destroyed man. Destined to live out his final years in emotional pain and mental anguish, Rambo is finally able to overcome his demons and achieve a relatively small quantity of peace. Seeing Rambo smile as he looks on at his dad’s postbox, gives a much needed element of hope for him, with his humanity returning.
The action is brutal, fast and explicit with no letting up on the gruesomeness. In this respect, it’s the perfect action movie.
In making this, Stallone excels and has outdone himself as Rambo is the best in the series. The action, thrills and excitement surpasses anything that came before.