I went to see the latest installment of the Rambo franchise last week, and - I gotta say - I really liked it!
First Blood introduced us to the reclusive John J. Rambo, a post-Vietnam wanderer with a serious mean streak. When pushed, Rambo strikes small town America with shock and awe the likes of which Baghdad can't even imagine. His superior officer, Colonel Troutman, gives us some context into this ticking time bomb when he tells the local sheriff, "Rambo's a killing machine... Trained to eat things that would make a billy-goat puke. He won't stop... ever." Troutman's prophetic words hold true, and Rambo leaves a trail of destruction like only a billy-goat eating, Medal of Honor winning, killing machine can.
Verdict: I loved every minute of it. From the prison camp flashbacks to the rat-infested mine shaft, to the emotionally charged, nearly inaudible rant at the end of the film, First Blood is still a favorite. Can't wait for the sequal!!
Rambo: First Blood Part II was perhaps one of the most hyped movies of the 80's. Sylvester Stallone resumed the Rambo character, but this time Rambo had been in prison for some time, and making big ones into little ones had further refined this born killer into something far more viscious: a body builder. Rambo rarely wears a shirt in the sequal, and his gaping physique reveals what we all fear to be true: prison gives the criminal element the rare opportunity to work out all day long, thereby making the dangerous even more dangerous. Rehabilitation never looked better!!
The government, in need of a public relations boost (imagine that!), decides it'd be a good idea to send a maniacal ex-green beret - who also happens to be incarcerated - into the Vietnam jungles to search for POW's. Ahhh that military intelligence! But Rambo, not the type to let POW's rot in the jungle, starts an all out war against the Vietnamese, the Russians, and even the corrupt Murdock, leader of this incredibly well thought out use of taxpayer dollars. Armed with a bow and arrows, a gigantic knife, and his heaving pectorals, Rambo rescues the POW's and thwarts his enemies in a series of very plausible combat scenarios. Let's face it, the guy's a tactician.
Verdict: Amazing!! We want more!! Rambo, you not expendable!!!
Rambo: First Blood Part III was a very forgetable film. This time Rambo finds himself in Afganistan fighting against those old cold war pinata's, the Russians. After all, American hero's + Russian commies = box office success!!
I don't really remember much about this movie, but it seems to me that Rambo demonstrates that he is like the mail man of military combat: neither rain, nor sleet, nor Vietnamese jungles, nor Middle Eastern caves can stop this guy from delivering the goods. We also see that although Rambo hasn't been to prison in a while, he is still ripped like a Greek god. Must be that diet of billy-goats and foreign enemies.
Verdict: The franchise has jumped the shark (that's pop-culture lingo for "this movie sucked, and the Rambo name has run its course").
But wait... In the distance voices are heard speaking of a new hope... What was once lost is now found... Rambo returns!!
The latest film, entitled simply "Rambo", takes us back to that ruggedly quiet wanderer we fell in love with in the very first film. We realize, very early on, that Rambo's new home offers more than small town America or prison could ever hope to give... Steroids!! Rambo is now a genetic freak who catches cobras for a living. We learn, without even hearing a word from Rambo's genetically altered lips, that he is still one bad mofo! If you handle cobras, what's overthrowing a genocidal regime gonna do? Scare you? It's a cobra, dude!
Anyway, we also see that this film is very different than the others. This movie is serious. Rambo, regardless of his veiny, swollen appearance, sheds light on one of the most heartbreaking realities of war: genocide. We are taken into a graphically brutal world of random occupation, rape and mass murder. It is sobering. Even the violence, which at one time in my life made me think that war was a cool thing, was gruesome and nauseating. The evils of war were clear, and the internal struggle for Rambo's soul was real and conflicting.
In the end, like always, Rambo wins, but you get the feeling that winning for Rambo is the most overrated thing in the world. He is beaten, lonely and so full of pain that he seems sub-human. Only at the very end of the film are we presented with the hope that change could be a possibility for this war torn veteran.
Verdict: Stallone has managed to take a character that had become a charicature, and turn him into a great character again. The man deserves some credit.
In all, the world's a better place because of Rambo. Thanks for the memories you bloated freak of nature!