Rambo Needs to Die and Stay Dead


Let’s get this out of the way, Rambo: Last Blood is a jingoistic, largely racist, right-wing fantasy that appeals to our worst selves and basest instincts. That is not why this movie sucks though; the same could be said about all Rambo movies, except perhaps the first, and they can be fun rides to turn the brain off to watch. What makes this movie terrible is that it commits the cardinal sin of cinema – it is boring.

I mention the politics of the Rambo series because the latest, and hopefully last, installment takes place in Mexico. Rambo has never been a series known for its understanding and effective representation of foreign cultures, a rather ironic fact given that the eponymous character served in US Army Special Forces (commonly known as the Green Berets). Mexico is treated accordingly. By this, I mean it is portrayed as a place of horrifying squalor filled with violent psychopaths and craven sociopaths. This is worth mentioning both because of the current political climate and the fact that the movie was released in the middle of Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month.

All of this can be, if not forgiven, ignored for much of the series if one is willing to turn off their brain for a bit and just enjoy the violence as Sylvester Stallone acts as a one-man army, tearing through battalions of inconsequential fools all on his own. This is once again ironic given the US Army Special Forces’ focus on unconventional warfare and role as a force multiplier. The problem is that Sylvester Stallone is now a seventy-three-year-old man, and – while I will argue that Stallone is a better actor than generally credited and that his role in the Creed films demonstrates he still has the chops – his age really shows here.

The spectacle violence that makes Rambo an American icon is largely absent here, replaced by smaller feats of sadistic brutality that fail to be either interesting or unnerving. The exception to this is the section of the film that can best be described as Home Alone meets Saw, which is fun but not on par with the violence of most modern action films. The lesson to be taken from this is that Rambo needs to stay in the sunset this time; his era is over. If you want a good action movie, go watch John Wick if you are looking for something gritty or Kingsmen if you want something wild.

The action is better and the politics are far less problematic. It is time for Rambo to die and stay dead.

1 out of 5,

Skip it.