Posted on 1/26/08 08:29 AM
As seen in The Lumberjack on Jan. 31:
Before I write my review for Rambo, I feel there is something I should address. See, in choosing what film I review every week, I attempt to pick those which will be seen by the most people. This weekend the title went to none other than Meet the Spartans, the latest piece of garbage made for people who enjoyed Date Movie, Epic Movie, or any Scary Movie after the first one. I?m gonna be honest: I couldn?t bring myself to watch it. I don?t want to say it?s beneath me, but? it?s beneath me.
So I saw Rambo instead.
Rambo is the fourth installment of a franchise that went dormant two decades ago. Sylvester Stallone is pulling the trick he did with 2006?s Rocky Balboa, taking on writing, directing, and starring in the role of the title character. Is he crazy to be jumping back into the jungle at 62 years of age? Maybe, but then again, neither Stallone nor John Rambo have ever been poster boys for sanity.
Ever since1982?s First Blood, John Rambo has been a symbol for broken American patriotism. Stallone is wise to leave that pride behind and give us a wounded Rambo, one who is done with America and her politics. What we have here is a man simply attempting to exist. He lives in Thailand, wrangles poisonous snakes, spearfishes, and adds a particular expletive to every short statement he makes.
Coincidentally, the Thai-Burma border is home to history?s longest civil war. When a group of missionaries come in hopes of bringing medical supplies to Burmese villagers, they ask Rambo for a lift.
?You bringing guns?? asks Rambo.
?Nope. Just medicine and Jesus,? says the group.
?F-ck off,? says Rambo.
The group?s only girl, Sarah (Julie Benz), bats her eyes at Rambo.
?Kay,? says Rambo.
So the group gets their ride. Shortly after their arrival, the current psychotic Burmese regime shows up. A bloodbath ensues, and now they are in need of some rescuing. Rambo needs to go in and save the day, but not without the help of some mercenaries and whatnot. Everything after this elaborate set-up pretty much goes to the tune of BANG BANG SPLATTER BLOODSHED EXPLOSION BANG.
I called a friend of mine after the flick was done. He asked ?Was the film good?? What an interesting question that is. I can tell you what I told him. Is this a good movie? No. Certainly not. Resoundingly negative.
However: is it a good Rambo movie? Absolutely.
The latest installment does the same thing the other ones did: use current real world nastiness as the backdrop to unleash ungodly amounts of violence, wooden acting, and bombastic music. The film Rambo is not concerned about political correctness or tact. Nobody even seems to know that Burma has not been called ?Burma? since 1898, when they changed their name to Myanmar.
The character Rambo doesn?t really care either. Why is he in Thailand? Why does he take the people up river? Why does he take the time to save them? These things are not explained much. They are necessary to set up the obligatory headshots, explosions, slicing and dicing. What makes the most sense out of the entire scenario is that he has help from mercenaries. Sure, a man can go solo and take out legions of people in his late 30s, but 62? Mass murder is a cumbersome task at 62.
This is not a movie that cares much about women either. Rambo and friends are all white and male. Sarah, the one woman of purpose in the story, exists to be kidnapped and rescued. She then proceeds to scream for the entirety of the film?s climax. Sarah is certainly not the most empowering portrayal of the fairer sex, which is interesting because Benz?s most prevalent role is that of a vampire on America?s most prevailing female-driven show of the late 90s and early 2000s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
But then again, maybe Stallone is right about this one. There is not a single chick I know that would go to the theater and ask for a ticket to Rambo without a date, male friend, or bet involved. When the film reel rolls, so much testosterone is produced that women may leave the theater with a beard. I know mine was certainly thicker.
How do I feel about Rambo? As a member of the male gender, I?m ecstatic. This is manly bloodthirsty manliness right here. As a film critic, though, I can do nothing but suffer. Rambo is a bad movie. No two ways about it.
However, Rambo said something I admired, as I related to it the minute he spoke. There is a point when the mercenaries want to turn back, and our hero looks at them and says something to the effect of ?Nobody wants to be here, but we have a job to do. No matter how bad it gets, we gotta stick it through.?
I definitely know the feeling, John. This is the film critic?s cry whenever something as awful as Rambo comes around. Regardless, it had to be better than Meet the Spartans.