Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.
The first film First Blood seems so tamed compared to this newest entry and looking back the series as a whole has changed along the way. First Blood was a film based on the novel of the same name that followed a man struggling to reenter society after the Vietnam War. It was a topical film showcasing the cruelty and disgust many of our veterans received upon returning home. First Blood was a film with scenes of violence, but it was not an action film. It was as far as I can see an anti war film. Every film after this has failed to understand what this film was about and has opted for a more action heavy series and a violent one at that.
Last Blood is First Blood's polar opposite. It relishes in its violence especially in the 3rd act, but at least in this film the reason and motive is clear and can be understood. Last Blood is not concerned with telling the story of a man haunted by war or telling an anti war story. Its focus is on violent revenge and I have to look at it this way. The Rambo series has transformed itself into something completely different from the first film. So, does this work as a revenge thriller?
I would say yes in the most simplistic sense. This is the story of a man who wants to live his final years in peace but is called to action once again to protect someone he loves. It's a story we know all too well. However, it has proved an emotionally resonant story in the past. Rambo's story in this film and his goal is simple and it's simple to a fault, but this film is not concerned with its story as much as it is the action this series has become known for.
Let's talk about the action. I won't lie it's fun. The third act is insane and over the top and indulges in grotesque violence that will bring out the cave man in all of us. This would be fine, other Stallone movies have indulged in violence before and that's the main selling point. His Expendibles trilogy is a great example, but Last Blood tries for something more and lays the seeds for what should be an emotional crescendo for our John Rambo, but the film doesn't do enough to make this satisfying and so the film ends up feeling unbalanced.
Rambo's relationship with his niece is the heart of the film and helps in at least giving an emotional connection the film sorely needs. However, these are about the only characters that have any form of depth. The villains are 1 dimensional and nothing more and are there simply to be part of an endless army for Rambo to mutilate and maim in glorious over the top violence which is fun. The film however has a saving grace in the form of Stallone and his performance. Stallone has always been an underrated actor and I believe it hasn't been until recently that he's been receiving some of the recognition he deserves.
The movies problems perhaps are a result of its extremely short length. If anyone knows about the making of this film it was constantly cut down in the editing room to make it 89 minutes, the shortest Rambo film to date. I believe in a longer version of this film lies a film that is much better, that balances out its more meditative moments with its bursts of violence.
As it stands the film feels unbalanced and has an extremely slow and boring first two acts that ends on an action packed finale and the the final moments of the film feel like they should be more impactful than they end up being. These last few moments are the best parts of the film and make it feel more like a finale. Perhaps an extended version of the film could be released to fix many of these films short comings, but we'll have to wait and see.
Overall, Rambo: Last Blood is a film that has the right stuff to make this finale great, but what is there is either not enough or cut down to reach a certain runtime. Stallone's performance makes it at least worth a watch as it tries it's best to blend the series violent aspects with the more character driven first film.
- Oct 3, 2019