“Rambo: Last Blood” Is More Like Home Stallone. “Rambo 5” Is Filled With Squeamish, Excessively Astounding, Wildly & Insane Violence. Don’t Take Your Grandma To This After Church On Sunday. While Being Lite On Story, It Feels Like Stallone’s Version Of “Taken”. The Film Looks Cheap & Could Have Been Released Straight To DVD. Stallone Is Great & “Last Blood” Is An Awesome Film. But If It Really Is The Last, It Just Doesn’t Feel Like The Big Satisfying End To The Legendary Characters Era.
Stallone may get a lot of negative comments in wanting to re-visit his past characters again and again. At 73 Sly “The Italian Stallion” Stallone is showing no signs of slowing down. He is currently working up a sequel to “Cobra” with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and a sequel to his 80’s buddy cop classic “Tango & Cash” opposite Kurt Russell.
Despite how much we cringe or say “Not again” to another installment of a past franchise. Stallone always delivers. No matter how many sequels he churns out he always puts out a great product. That’s mainly because he has a major involvement in these films giving his input and serving as the film’s executive producer. No matter how many “Rambo”, “Rocky” or even “Expendables” he does, you’ll get a great product.
Stallone has been playing the psychologically damaged Vietnam veteran with enviable brutal combat skills for 37 years, and the last Rambo was 11 years ago. Stallone has dusted off his hunters knife and has brought him back for a fifth and supposed final outing in “Rambo: Last Blood”. After all these years, these characters have become alter egos for Stallone, it’s actually rather intriguing to watch his characters age both physically and psychologically as the actor does himself.
After returning to rural Arizona to reunite with his estranged father, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is now in charge of the property after his dad’s death, remaining close to housekeeper Maria (Adriana Barraza) and becoming a guardian to her 18 year old granddaughter, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), who’s about to enter college. Rambo self-medicates with pills to even himself out, get past visions of Vietnam and rid the voices in his head. Rambo steps in as a father figure for Gabrielle as he’s quick to shoot down her request to confront her absentee father in Mexico, who easily gets the a****** of the year award.
After having an agreement with her Uncle John and agreeing not to go to Mexico. Well there wouldn’t be any movie if she was the angel teenager Rambo thinks she is and just stayed home, so she defies his wishes and off she goes to Mexico. Gabrielle enters a world of trouble she cannot even imagine, only to be sold out by her friend who offers her up to a sex trafficking ring run by vile cartel monster Hugo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and hothead enforcer Victor (Oscar Jaenada). Learning of the kidnapping, Rambo hops in his pick-up and barrels it down to Mexico to reclaim her, only to encounter the full force of cartel violence, which triggers something dark within him.
The screenplay doesn’t pack in the action like the previous sequels, it saves most of it for the films third act. “Last Blood” takes its time with Gabrielle in her journey to Mexico. While there are bursts of violence throughout the film, most notably as when Rambo is surrounded by cartel goons and beaten into submission, coming out of it looking like he was filming another Rocky film at the same time. Rambo is rescued by unnecessary subplot and character named Carmen (Paz Vega), a journalist tracking the baddies, seeking revenge for the murder of her family member.
When we find Rambo in “Last Blood” he is still wrestling with his demons, by popping pills and being something of a family man. He strives to remain supportive of Gabrielle, with the two enjoying horse rides and conversations. There is a real sense of peace in the first few minutes of “Last Blood”, but this is Rambo we’re talking about and he isn’t about to settle in for the easy life without a lot of blood on his hands and knife.
Directed by Adrian Grunberg, director of the underrated Mel Gibson action flick “Get the Gringo”. Grunberg clashes two films together to make up what he can for a paper thin storyline, by taking a 90’s classic and a 2000 box office hit. Like the films first act, when Gabrielle goes to Mexico and falls victim to human traffickers. It’s Rambo in an ultra violent R-rated “Taken” movie.
As Rambo fires up in the third act, with taking cues from a 90’s classic while unleashing extraordinary gore, including using a claw hammer to his arsenal to further secure shock value. An ambush in the third act of the film, Rambo has thoroughly booby trapped his secluded Arizona ranch. When the cartel arrives, a sequence begins that’s straight out of “Home Alone”, now called “Home Stallone”. It’s as if the heartwarming Kevin McCallister had brutally murdered more than 20 people. Including decapitations, impalements, explosions, incinerations, gunshot and machine gun rounds and deep wounds caused from his iconic knife.
The scene alone which has Stallone cut through a man’s chest with a knife, reach in, grab his heart and glare at it makes the movie all the worthwhile to go. Now there are no limits to the extent of the graphically brutal vengeance Rambo takes on his niece’s tormentors. In 2008’s sequel “Rambo”, it got more and more graphic throughout the film.
While “Last Blood” takes violence so heavy handed, so cringe worthy, the brutality is utterly satisfying because these human traffickers deserve what they are getting. It’s a relentlessly savage finale, even better that it’s all played to the tune of “Five To One” by The Doors. This is the kind of violent cinema you don’t want to take your grandmother on a Sunday after church. Remember when the most graphic scene in “First Blood” was when he cleaned his arm wound with his knife? As Bob Dylan said the times they-are-a-changing. “Last Blood” doesn’t look as gritty as the previous films, it has a slightly more mellow vibe to the feature. It looks cheap like it could have been a Netflix original or a straight to Hard Media Lionsgate release.
The John Rambo we meet in “Last Blood”, is like the actor himself and is not the sleek killing machine of the previous films. Rambo moves slowly these days as the weight of the years are hanging over him and his craggily face. You’d think the title would imply that this is the final entry in the five-film Rambo series. If it is, it just doesn’t feel like a conclusive or big satisfying ending to such a legendary character. But knowing Stallone, you never know and it’s probably Rambo’s first of his final farewell tour. If he does another one, see you back here for the next Rambo bloodbath and hopefully it’s not 11 years later.
GRADE: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)