Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Rambo (2008) has a unique feeling to it. That feeling builds if you saw Rocky Balboa (2007). The same paradigm is in effect here. An aging Sylvester Stallone is revisiting his star-making roles as John Rambo and Rocky Balboa to bring closure to them. Rocky was about leaving the character in a place the fans could feel good about. This time he was not helping someone else, he was the centerpiece of the movie and it showed that he was done as a movie character. Now Stallone wants to do the same for Rambo.

In this movie review you won't hear the names of any character or actor other than John Rambo (Rocky Balboa) because they are not important to the story. The missionary girl provides some undefined, tenuous reason for Rambo to dust off his trusty bow and go to war to rescue some other missionaries he doesn't like or care about. Along the way a few political comments are thrown in, mostly to the effect that people trying to do good deeds such as bringing education, religion, or medical help to people without packing guns are not changing anything.

Meanwhile, Rambo himself is a tormented soul unwilling to find out if he is able to go home and clear things up with his family. While he considers it he joins some mercenaries in a rescue of the captured missionaries, blows lots of things up, fires lots of bullets and arrows, rigs booby traps, and basically clear-cuts a few square miles of jungle with bullets and claymore mines.

After the blood it ends with him walking back up the lane to his United States house with the implication he is, at last, able to find peace with himself and at home.

As an action movie there is too much pondering and as a character study there is too much over the top action. As an end to the Rambo series, however, it fits and makes sense. If you are a Rambo fan this is a must-see, if you are an action fan it is a see on a slow night, and if you are neither...well, you won't like this much. Implausible characters, bad dialogue, confusing interactions, and cheap shots at good-hearted people just combine to be too much to overcome.

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