In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit.In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit.In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit.
- Missionary #5 (Preacher)as Missionary #5 (Preacher)
- (as James Wearing Smith)
"Nothing does change. It's what is."
As my first viewing now since having seen the first three, I can appreciate the way this film mythologizes the character. This is done in part through School Boy's reverence, which adds a great counterbalance to the chemistry of the cast. We also revisit the human core of the first installment, from the dialogue scene in the rain to the close up of his knife sinking with the boat-symbolizing the indefinite struggle of a PTSD veteran who has to live with the heavy soul of his past. And the St. Francis prayer recited in the backdrop of the weapon-welding montage: a prayer of opposites, of contradictions, of embracing humility and forgiveness in the face of evil. A prayer of philosophical inquisition-an appeal directly to God to help one understand and navigate the world around us with greater wisdom and clarity. It is a fitting theme for John Rambo.
"Where there is darkness, light."
Granted, the film is not a cerebral one, but it has some fitting choices for mood and set up. The peaceful stream to doom is abruptly juxtaposed by a sheer brutality that is so extreme, it can really only be matched by the unrestrained amount of violence onscreen throughout the last act. Could Stallone have capitalized on this earlier mood and went with more stealth à la First Blood? Sure, but given how perfect the pacing is and the pointed catharsis of the film's setup & violent delivery, I find it quite forgivable how shamelessly the film forgoes drama and suspense, all without betraying character. In this way, Rambo truly is a staple barebones action film. A fitting peak in the series as a manifestation of his inner war.
The baddies are paper thin and one-dimensional, but the Tatmadaw Burmese militia being a real entity and perpetrators of genocide gives the antagonists weight. The solid score from Brian Tyler is built around Jerry Goldsmith's classic theme from the earlier installments, yet polished free of the 80s vibe (Battle Adagio stands out as John Rambo's new theme). Visually, the post-production CGI blood is poor and detracting. I don't know how much of that can be attributed to the feature's comparatively lower budget having been independently made by Stallone. Nonetheless, I admire the man's passion for the legacy that his films leave for his fans.
David Morrell, the writer of the original novel "First Blood", has said this is the closest in tone he has seen any of the movies get to the character he wrote. Personally, I think Rambo 4 has the best of both worlds: a sincere depiction of an aged Rambo and the over-the-top action, brutality, and thrills of Rambo II & III. I'd even say it is the best of all the Rambo movies.
- Oct 2, 2019