Threadbare and mean-spirited, Rambo: Last Blood confirms a suspicion of mine.
Stallone completely fluked Rambo: First Blood.
He must have! First Blood is a truly great film, shining a light on PTSD and feelings of abandonment suffered by Vietnam veterans. There was one death in the film, and Stallone’s best acting at the end. The following films have attempted the same, but the body counts have undermined any serious attempt to shine light into other situations. Since 1982 we’ve moved from one accidental death in First Blood, to 254 in Rambo.
Over time I’ve come to appreciate the original more and more. The second and third films I’ve written off as silly, whilst Rambo is flat-out clumsy. I won’t defend them necessarily, but I’ll probably watch them if they come up. Last Blood however, is outright cruel. Stallone can convincingly portray the rage and history of the character for sure, but there is no subtlety at all. The script, if you can call it that, has little to no content; it’s all broad strokes. This film is gratuitous and cold hearted.
Buried in here somewhere is a commentary on how Rambo never escaped ‘Nam and his own private war. He’s pill popping and building tunnels – hardly healthy behaviour. Unfortunately that theme is hidden by such brutality that I’m left wondering what the aim of it all was. At one point over the previous decade Rambo was poised to take on a genetically engineered creature. I used to think that sounded utterly preposterous. Now? I’d snap that up.
Special shout out goes to the awful rear projection for the some of the car scenes. I’m not sure why they needed to do it, but it’s terrible.
The author of the book the series is based on has disowned Last Blood, and he’s absolutely right to. What started as a meaningful representation of the effects of war has mutated into something that takes great delight in ‘cool kills’. War changed Rambo, but not into something I can recommend.