Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Reynaldo Gallegos, Jake La Botz, Tim Kang, Maung Maung Khin, Paul Schulze, Cameron Pearson, Thomas Peterson, Tony Skarberg, James Wearing Smith
Written by: Sylvester Stallone, Art Monterastelli, based on characters created by David Morrell
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images and language
Running Time: 93
Date: 01/23/2008

Rambo (2008)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Fourth Blood

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In Rambo, the average bullet can hit a person so hard that it doesn't just punch a hole; it causes various body parts to fly off in different directions. Sadly, that's about all this new film, the fourth film in Sylvester Stallone's war cycle and the first in 20 years, has to offer.

Stallone's previous film, Rocky Balboa (2006), was a highly personal and surprisingly touching film. But Rambo shows no such justification for its existence. The character isn't nearly as complex as Rocky, and the whole enterprise seems like an excuse to bust out the new, high-tech weaponry.

Rambo (Stallone) has been living in Thailand for some time, world-weary and cynical, catching snakes and piloting a longboat up the Salween River for a living. American missionaries approach him for a ride into Burma, a deadly war zone, so that they can hand out Bibles and encouraging words. Not surprisingly, their chosen village is attacked and they are captured. So a band of scurvy, tattooed mercenaries join Rambo on a rescue mission that lasts the entire second half of the film and results in mighty amounts of carnage. Julie Benz co-stars as a pretty blonde missionary.

Stallone plays Rambo with very little dialogue, which is good, because whenever anyone speaks in this film, it's cringe-worthy. The bad guys are drunken, pedophile rapists who sneer and chatter in their native language, un-translated. Stallone's action photography is trendy, shaky-cam stuff, but more machine-gun jittery than just mere hand-held shaky.

When the first three Rambo films opened, in 1982, 1985 and 1988 respectively, it was an entirely different world. Rambo really doesn't bother to ask where this relic of a character fits today.

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