By John H. Foote
The next time I have to sit through a John Rambo slaughter I hope it is something like Rambo Meets Frankenstein, or the Alien Meets John Rambo, or even Donald Trump Versus John Rambo. God, even Happy Gilmour Meets Rambo! They have to do something to upgrade this sad franchise, I mean the old warrior is over 70 years old! That he looks incredible is a testament to Sylvester Stallone and steroids, but damn is this one dumbass movie.
We first encountered John Rambo in First Blood (1982) a fine, solid thriller with Stallone giving a great physical performance as the damaged Vietnam veteran. Coming to visit an old buddy, he is harassed by the local police in the small town and declares war. They have no idea he is trained in survival and killing, and get exactly what they deserve. Until Stallone has to deliver a corn pone monologue at the end of the film, it is quite a powerful, visceral experience.
Rambo – First Blood Part II (1985) turned the character and the war in Vietnam into a comic book. After years struggling to bring Vietnam to the screen, Hollywood artists finally did so with brilliant films such as Apocalypse Now (1979) and Coming Home (1978), but just as fast, producers in Hollywood turned it into a silly comic. Rambo goes back to Vietnam searching for American POW’s still in cages because their captors do not know the war is over. With maddening lines like, “Do we get to win this time?” you know this is going to be a howler, and it is. Rambo single-handedly wipes out an army, and brings the ghostly men home. Did we expect anything less? That he was superhuman was ridiculous.
Oh but it continues. Rambo III (1987) sees the big lug in Afghanistan.
Then years go by, Stallone is over 60 but makes another Rocky film, the under appreciated Rocky Balboa (2006) and, perhaps feeling nostalgic, writes John Rambo (2008). Yep, we needed that. This time the battle scarred warrior helps a group of American Christians get home safely after they are attacked in deep Thailand.
And now we have Rambo – Last Blood.
Honest? Is this really the last one? I kind of wanted a signed contract after seeing the film.
And understand, I like Sylvester Stallone, always have, though I wish he would accept his limitations. Not his acting limitations, he is too much of an egotist to do that, but his age. His age limits him. Are we really supposed to believe a 70 plus man could pull off the fighting, the stunts, recover from the vicious beating he takes, and still come back at the bad guys? Just a bit of reality please??
Retired, living on the US-Mexico border, Rambo lives a quiet life of solitude. But when a Mexican cartel take his niece, well, it is not long before the cache of weapons come out, and the old Rambo springs into action.
THIS IS A STUPID MOVIE!!!
PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL LOVE THIS MOVIE!!
That should say it all and be enough to keep people away.
Stallone has given us great cinematic moments, the first Rocky (1976) remains a gritty little love story about a guy who fights, and never forget it was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning three including Best Picture. More recently Stallone brilliantly reprised the role in Creed (2015), earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor that many, myself included, believe he should have won. He was less successful in Creed II (2018), though his presence hovered over the film.
Embrace the past Sylvester, treasure it, but it is gone. Stop trying to relive it … you are going to look foolish.
Well, too late.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.