Published on February 26th, 2008 | by Chris0
Well, he's back.
In Rambo, Vietnam vet and disillusioned mercenary John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) finds himself approached by a band of Christian missionaries, eager to head up river from Thailand into Burma to deliver medicine and supplies.
You can pretty much guess what happens next. And, of course it does. But really Rambo puts a hell of a close on the franchise, and actually does so with a fair amount of thought behind it. Well, at least more than I expected, anyway.
It doesn't hurt, either, when you're Stallone, and you write, produce, direct *and* star in the thing. I'm almost more impressed it turned out like it did, despite all of that.
We start our tale with John Rambo living somewhere in (presumably) western Thailand, collecting snakes for the local fighting arena. He's approached by the group of aforementioned missionaries, who need to get up the river into Burma. He initially refuses, but is convinced by the pleadings of the only woman among them, Sarah Miller (Julie Benz.) He drops them off, but not before dispatching a band of river-pirates in a typically Rambo-like fashion.
All the while, John is still preaching his mantra (at least for this film,) "You can't change anything." A product of his experience in Vietnam, coupled with his battles since then. The world keeps fighting, and people keep dying, no matter how many Rambo's you throw out there to get the job done. He's apparently accepted this as truth, and would rather just live out his days catching snakes.
On the other side of the coin is the Burmese military, terrorizing the locals, maiming and killing, and generally being ruthless and merciless. They attack the village where the missionaries are, and in a rather bloody and violent episode, take Miller and her fellow do-gooder Michael (Paul Schulze) prisoner.
Now, I have to interject here, and say that if you are the least bit on the squeamish side, you should probably avoid Rambo altogether. It's during this village attack that the brutality of the military government is displayed. In great detail. Lets just say there are mortars and machetes involved, and none of it is pretty. Men, women, and children alike are victims of this attack, and if there was any doubt in your mind what *should* happen next after that....
...meanwhile, John's encounter with the river-pirates has dredged up all the old memories of his previous lives (and films!) in a series of flashback scenes which, while on the edge of corny, actually makes a lot of sense. He's been contacted by the missionaries' pastor, straight from Colorado, asking for his help to get a band of mercenaries up the river to find them.
This river trip with the rag-tag band of mercenaries is both funny, and insightful, all at the same time. The Mercs range from the eccentric weirdos, to the cocky young kids, to the brash "veteran" of the bunch, who taunts John with his stories and comments the entire trip, only to be met by the piercing silent stare of Rambo, as if to say "Shut the F*** Up, I've got more experience in this sort of thing than I care to have!" It's clear that he's had enough of it, and holds this bunch in contempt.
Yet at the same time, John knows he's responsible for the plight of the missionaries, and trails the missionaries, finally meeting up with them at the attacked village. He takes out the soldiers who are playing deadly games with their prisoners, in bow-and-arrow ninja style, much to the surprise of the mercenaries, who've been hiding wondering what to do.
"It's in our blood," he tells them as he joins them on their quest. He's come full circle, turned back into the killing machine we all came to love, er, or something.
Well, you can probably guess the rest, and I won't spoil it for you. Needless to say that there are lots of large caliber rounds fired, and they do in this movie exactly what they do in real life. Well, sort of anyway. Again, avert your eyes o' weak-stomached ones.
With John's final mission complete (er, OK, maybe I'll spoil it a little), he takes Sarah's advice, and in an homage to Rambo: First Blood, we find him walking in his M-65 along the roadside, only this time he's on his way back home, most likely for good.
OK, so I spoiled the entire movie for you. But I have to say that apart from the almost sickening amount of blood and flying body parts, that at its core Rambo was actually a decent movie. I was pleasantly surprised by it, expecting nothing but a re-hash of part II.
Since the beginning, Rambo's been about overcoming defeat, and in some strange sense, making things right the only way he knows how, through war and death. He's never been a willing participant, but merely carrying out the job he was trained and called upon to do.
And in the end, instead of becoming that machine of destruction, he finally (finally!) puts it behind him, and moves on with his life. Which is what most participants of wars have to do. One way or another.
So, you decide. Is Rambo just another mindless action flick, or some sort of statement on war itself, and the hurdles faced by veterans?
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