Director: Sylvester Stallone
Matthew Marsden/School Boy
Last we saw John Rambo (Stallone) he was swayed out of seclusion from a Buddhist monastery in Thailand to hit Afghanistan in the name of saving a friend (Colonel Trautman that is). We're now 20 years later and Rambo is still in isolation in Thailand, but this time he’s catching snakes for a living near the country club spa that is Burma.
That’s until problems finds him via a group of Christian human rights missionaries who want to rent his boat to hit Burma and help the Karen people. The latter are sadly constantly picked on (i.e. slaughtered) by the ruthless Burmese military. The missionaries are of course captured and it’s up to Rambo and a band of mercenaries to save them and teach them freaking Burmese bullies a lesson in manners they won’t soon forget.
You didn't kill for your country... you killed for yourself. – John Rambo
This was a new type of RAMBO movie, somewhat closer to FIRST BLOOD in tone (axed towards realism) than say RAMBO 2 and RAMBO 3. A RAMBO that tried to do a lot at the same time and that for me, succeeded for the most part. Granted plot wise; we’ve seen it before. Stallone somewhat ripped on RAMBO 3 in terms of this sequel’s set up… but execution? You haven’t seen a RAMBO movie like this before!
FIRST BLOOD was an intimate action film with “one death”. RAMBO II and III were big and lush pictures that pretty much glorified Sly’s muscled bod and the violence by making it look cool (NOTE: I missed Rambo’s explosive tip arrows, I said it!). This RAMBO went the other way. Sly kept his shirt on (he's still a huge mofo though), the body count was higher than ever and the violence was played “for real”. It was raw, brutal, dirty, ugly and yes, incredibly gory . I mean f*ck me sideways with a rust laced lawnmower man… the amount of atrocities showed in this film was beyond what I could’ve imagined. Topple on top of that hints of rapes and child molesting and yeah; I almost O.D. on human-caused evil over here! And that was the point. One of Stallone’s intent with this effort was to show the true repulsiveness of war and you know what, it worked on my white ass! The second I got home I cancelled my planned Burma vacation and chose to hang back Alaska instead. F*ck that shite! Bring on them Polar Bears (if they’re not extinct yet)!
At the same time; RAMBO was an exhilarating action film. One that was always on the move and that took us the audience member along for the ride – close quarters. The movie was filled with eye gouging mayhem and adreanaline charged gunfights. And although yes, the to the grit violence rather disturbed me early on; I was the a-hole clapping and yelling “f*ck yeah” when Rambo and cie gave them baddies some deserved payback in the second half. You couldn’t have a more engaged and fulfilled moviegoer than me. DAMN! The impact of the whole was definitely jacked by Stallone’s hand held camera, over the shoulder, Saving Private Rambo approach to it all. In my world, too much hand-held usually means “you don’t see shit” but not with this bitter pill. Stallone managed to echo the chaos and sheer madness of his tale by way of his choice of shots but I was rarely disoriented or “searching the screen” to see what was going down. NICE!
Finally, RAMBO hit home on an emotional and human level as well. Yeah I know… who knew? I was touched by Rambo’s inner plight and valued that the character was brought “full circle” (something that Trautman told Rambo to do in Part 3). Rambo has seen so much evil that he hates the world (I don’t blame him) and doesn’t believe in anything. And this “twist of fate” forces him to come to terms with himself, to grow and move forward. I felt for the guy! Furthermore, I so got off on the clashing of idealistic (missionaries) versus full on realistic (Rambo) that the film had to offer. It made for some involving and thought provoking drama. The missionaries learned the “hard way” that “meaning well” will sometimes not mean much in such a dreadful world. Downbeat? Yup! But it hit me where it counts. RIGHT HERE (Arrow points at decayed heart)!
Any peeves with this motherf*cker that f*cked its mother up the mother? Not too many. There was NOT ENOUGH Rambo doing what he does best for my liking! In the three first films, the Ex Green Beret was the center of the action, a one man army that cannot be stopped. Here, he didn’t do that much during the middle section other than run; diluted by the mercenaries that backed him up. I had to wait till the last block to relish in Rambo, “Rambo-ing” as he should! Then there was the CGI which was off the mark in places. Thankfully that didn’t happen too much.
All in all; RAMBO was an ambitious, ferocious and fearless film that attempted to give me the RAMBO I grew up with, a challenging war opus, a character study and a rousing adventure all at the same time… and you know what… it freaking succeeded 95% of the time. Finally, a true and to the core action film graces our screens again! I can’t remember the last time that happened! RAMBO’S BACK AND I’M HAPPIER THAN A WHORE COVERED IN 100$ BILLS AND SMEGMA!
The film was a bloodbath. Peeps were blown to bits, limps were chopped off, heads blown to puree, there was one nasty evisceration, countless gun shot wounds, children were shot, a baby was tossed into a fire… the list never ends. You like your violence hard R? You can’t get harder than this!
Sylvester Stallone (Rambo) brilliantly communicated the anger and the sadness of the character through his eyes and body movements. And when it came to the action scenes; well let’s just say I hope I move that well when I’m 61 years old. Props Sly! HGH here I come! Julie Benz (Marie) brought intensity and credibility to her role. Loved her! Matthew Marsden (School Boy) was mucho empathetic on his end while Graham McTavish (Lewis) cracked me up as the bitter and peeved off mercenary. Paul Schulze (Michael) must have done a good job because I wanted to back-hand his self righteous and close minded character silly.
T & A
We get quick glimpses of chicks’ tits and one ass but trust me, nothing arousing or pleasant here being that the goodies were set in HELL.
Stallone got me mucho involved in the action by way of his “aim for realism” shooting style i.e. visceral, ground level and no f*cking around. At the same time, now and again he would give us some potent slow motion or wide, steady shots that either captured the beauty of the setting or lingered on the appaling aftermath of an attack. Sly was on top of his game here! Dare I say it was his best film as director? YES!
Brian Tyler has outdone himself. He reproduced the classic Jerry Goldsmith RAMBO score perfectly while adding his own arresting nuances to it. And for the rest of the time, he put out an absorbing and frequently moving soundtrack that boosted the film's dimensions and emotional resonance. Yup, I already order the CD!
At a certain point in the film John Rambo says: “F*ck the world” and I felt the same way walking out of the theatre. RAMBO was an anti-war film with HUGE balls first, showing me how foul it can get with no apology. It was a rousing action film second, dragging me onto a battle field and putting me through the "pow-pow" ringer for better and for worse. And it was a character study last. The Rambo character was brought home with class and the conflict between what is "right" and what “is” totally engulfed me. As a whole Stallone has fashioned quite a novel film; part social commentary, part character study and part exploitation piñata. It’s not fully the RAMBO I grew up with; it’s a RAMBO that reaches much further. A Cannon opus (80’s action prod company), meets an Oscar hopeful! That’s the best way I could describe it. With that said… I want another RAMBO movie! This entry proved to me that the bandana whore is not done. GIVE ME ANOTHER ONE! I'M GAME!
James Brolin was set to play the Colonel Samuel Trautman after Richard Crenna passed on. The role was eventually written out of the script.
This is the first Rambo film that wasn't scored by Jerry Goldsmith (who has since passed on).
If you look closely at Rambo's dream in this film; you'll see a snippet of the original ending for First Blood (Trautman shooting Rambo).
MOW DOWN THE OFFICIAL RAMBO WEBSITE HERE