The Rambo films vary wildly in their quality. Stallone has used each installment to bring attention to a different situation – POWs, Afghanistan, Burma – but the second and third films couldn’t match First Blood, which was fantastic. Admirable intent, but wild variation in quality.
It seems that he had a hankering for bringing back his stalwart characters in the late 00’s. Rocky Balboa made a decent return to the ring in 2006, and two years along came Rambo. Both come back in states befitting the actor; seasoned, aged, and somewhat ready to reflect on their lives. Unfortunately, where Balboa was a touching and heartfelt coda to the main Rocky story, Rambo doesn’t do much. He’s still overtly muscular, and he still has the long hair and bandanna, but he’s living a quiet life. When his sense of right pulls him into a confrontation, which sadly amounts to be a woman in peril, things get awfully gory awfully quickly.
Rambo is full of CGI gore, with the 50 cal scene in particular a gruesome display of firepower. From a purely ‘guns going bang’ point of view the film is a success; but First Blood was nothing like that. 2008 Rambo seems to want to be a touch more thoughtful, but ultimately falls into being more like the second and third installments. So overall, I just didn’t care as much. Sure, the films ends on a more positive note for the character, but the proceeding 90 minutes doesn’t delve into his feelings or motivations to give us anything to latch onto. I’m very curious how the next chapter in the series will play out, but this one is clumsy.