Rambo: Last Blood (M18)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega
Directed by Adrian Grunberg
Now that Sylvester Stallone’s done (for now) with playing Rocky Balboa, it’s time for him to say bye-bye to another ’80s iconic character John Rambo, in the imaginatively titled Last Blood.
Following the events in 2008’s Rambo (aka Rambo IV, the one set in Myanmar), the Vietnam War veteran, after spending years in Southeast Asia, is now back in the US of A. He lives on his family ranch in Arizona, with a housekeeper, Maria (Adriana Barraza), and her granddaughter Gabriela (Yvette Monreal), whom Rambo raised as his own.
It’s unclear if Rambo has opened a Facebook account. He still suffers from PTSD anxiety, though. He copes with it by taking medication (or those vitamin pills?) and building an underground bunker and a maze of tunnels. Every man needs a hobby, right?
Wait, you don’t come to a Rambo movie to watch him moping around in the house, getting all touchy-feely. That would be boring. No, you come to see a dormant war machine reconnect with his killer instincts. And he gets that chance when tragedy befalls a loved one, a victim of the Mexican cartel. The monster in Rambo finally awakens from slumber...… about 30 minutes into the movie.
The Mexico portrayed in Last Blood comes straight out of President Trump’s rhetoric: a lawless hellhole run by drug dealers and rapists. Needless to say, this movie isn’t going to do wonders for strained US-Mexico relations. (The production, by the way, was shot in Bulgaria and the Canary Islands.)
The only person Rambo can rely on for intel is an independent journalist played by Paz Vega. She says the cartel is too powerful (duh), so Rambo decides to lure the bad guys to him. Remember those tunnels? Rambo has found a new use for them.
Cue montage of him fortifying his ranch — with booby traps, claymore mines, the whole nine yards — as if he were expecting an invasion by the Night King and his Army of the Dead. The last reel is high on action but low on actual excitement. It isn't as gory as the last Rambo, but there's only so much impaling/incineration /beheading/explosion one can take before calling it a day.
You would think that in the decade since Rambo, Stallone, who's responsible for ham-fisted dialogue, would’ve learnt the mistakes from that movie as well as The Expendables (and its sequels) and make a decent action flick that’s in tune with the times, and not just another ’80s nostalgia fest.
If you want to see a ‘80s action movie, then stay home to watch Rambo: First Blood Part II. If Sly could revitalise the Rocky series with Creed, why can’t he do the same with Rambo? Obviously, he's in autopilot mode. He doesn’t need Last Blood, he needs new blood!
In the ‘90s and noughties, there is a special place in hell for Last Blood: home video. Today, it’s the kind of generic dreck that winds up on [insert your preferred video subscription service] with little fanfare.
After the stylised and exhilarating mayhem of John Wick, why should you settle for this low-grade blow-‘em-up? It's pity Stallone didn't save the best for the last.
Rambo: Last Blood will kill it at next years' Razzies. (**)