Film Review – Rambo: Last Blood

Rambo: Last Blood (R)

Directed by: Adrian Grunberg

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Never one to let a popular franchise die, Stallone is back to reprise his iconic character Rambo yet again after an 11 year break in a blood drenched sequel that delivers on action, but confounds in its politics.

Haunted by his inability to save a couple of hikers from a natural disaster, Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) retreats back to his reclusive existence at his ranch, training his horse and working down in his labyrinth of self-dug tunnels under his vast property.

His college bound niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) reveals she has tracked down her deadbeat, criminal Dad who now lives in Mexico, and she wants to confront him for some answers.

Rambo tries to convince her otherwise, but she goes anyway and ends up kidnapped by a prostitution ring. Rambo goes looking for her, with the help of local journalist Carmen Delgado (Paz Vega), and takes on the entire cartel single-handedly.

On the one hand, Rambo: Last Blood is a tightly scripted, down and dirty, short and sharp action film that pulls no punches and in just 90 minutes, spends adequate time developing relationships and characters, with Stallone given plenty of moments to act in a melancholic fashion. It is all groundwork for the carnage that comes later – groundwork that some 120 minute action films don’t even bother with.

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Speaking of carnage, it certainly satisfies on that level. This leaves gore porn Saw and Hostel in its dust and will have audiences (guilty!) hooting at the creative and graphic on-screen slaughtering of the “bad guys”.

But therein lies Rambo: Last Blood‘s deepest flaw – the “bad guys” are particularly nasty (this movie does not shy away from the atrocities they do) and exclusively Mexican. It may have been overlooked in the 1980s, but now these kinds of attitudes are troubling.

How many times do we have to sit through film where Mexico and Mexicans are painted as the enemy? Particularly troubling is the acknowledgement of Trump’s wall with a handful of shots.

A throwback to the ultra-violent action films of the 1970s and 80s in the best and worst sense, it is such a shame that Rambo: Last Blood takes so much care with character, only to threaten to undo it all with its questionable and outdated politics and attitudes.

 

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