Rambo: Last Blood

Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

Rambo: Last Blood
dir Adrian Grunberg
scr Matthew Cirulnick, Sylvester Stallone
prd Avi Lerner, Yariv Lerner, Steven Paul, Kevin King Templeton, Les Weldon
with Sylvester Stallone, Adriana Barraza, Oscar Jaenada, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Fenessa Pineda, Marco de la O, Genie Kim aka Yenah Han, Joaquin Cosio, Rick Zingale, Manuel Uriza
release US/UK 20.Sep.19
19/US Lionsgate 1h29

barraza jaenada vega
Rambo (0208)

Rambo: Last Blood
There are hints of something much more interesting scattered throughout this sequel. But director Adrian Grunberg opts instead to instead take the most simplistic, bombastic route through a script that isn't particularly strong on nuance. The dramatic opening scenes seem promising, but every character trait and plot point is badly telegraphed, leaving absolutely no suspense as everything descends into mindlessly orgiastic bloodshed.
Living quietly on his farm in Arizona, John Rambo (Stallone) is sad that Gaby (Monreal), the niece he raised, is leaving for university. But a friend (Pineda) has located her father (de la O) in Mexico, so against John's advice she goes to see him. Within hours, Gaby is captured by a sex-ring gang run by brothers Victor and Hugo (Jaenada and Peris-Mencheta). And when John goes to rescue her, they nearly kill him. With the emphasis on "nearly". Rescued by journalist Carmen (Vega), he heads back into the fray, and this time he's ready.
Yes, the script feels like it's based on an unmade Taken sequel, although it goes full-Rambo in the second half, erupting into all-out war between this one grizzled veteran and an massive, militarily trained Mexican cartel. There's never even the slightest question of whether this is a fair fight: this army of ruthless killers doesn't stand a chance against the 73-year-old Stallone and his arsenal of big guns, homemade knives, arrows, bombs and booby traps.

Stallone adds some subtlety to his performance, giving John a bullheaded sensibility as a man who simply never quits. His scenes with Barraza (fine as his housekeeper) are the only remotely watchable ones in the movie. Both Vega and Monreal have roles so thankless that the filmmaker himself doesn't seem interested in them, other than as props. And the vicious goons all blur into one, with the standout being the particularly brutal Victor, identifiable by his man-bun. One guess which villain is the last one standing.

It's a badly missed opportunity that this is such a lazy movie, because the first Rambo movie (1982's First Blood) was rather thoughtful and complex. So there is scope to do something interesting now after three violent romps. Instead, we get a gratuitous flood of insulting stereotypes and fetishistic hyper-violence. In this world, police and hospitals simply don't exist. And men like John Rambo are still deeply bad, they've just learned how to hold it in. Until they don't.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 19.Sep.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall