Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Genie Kim, Joaquín Cosío, Oscar Jaenada
Written by: Matthew Cirulnick, Sylvester Stallone, based on a story by Dan Gordon, Sylvester Stallone, and on characters created by David Morrell
Directed by: Adrian Grunberg
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence, grisly images, drug use and language
Running Time: 101
Date: 09/18/2019

Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though it vainly tries for a little bit of the human soul that drove the 1982 original First Blood, this fifth entry in the Rambo series is ultimately little more than a cheap, gory revenge fantasy.

In Rambo: Last Blood, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has found the quiet life, living on a horse ranch in Arizona alongside Maria (Adriana Barraza) and her teen granddaughter Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), whom he has helped raise and whom he considers family. When Maria learns of the whereabouts of her biological father, she heads to Mexico, without permission, to find him.

Unfortunately, she is kidnapped and taken into a human trafficking ring. Rambo goes to Mexico to retrieve her but finds himself outnumbered and badly beaten. A journalist, Carmen Delgado (Paz Vega) nurses him back to health, and he enters the den of thieves once more. This time, though he has brought a war to his own front yard. Fortunately, he is ready.

Coming 11 years after Rambo (2008), Rambo: Last Blood — will this really be the last one? — is basically a series of simple setups with predictable payoffs. We meet the pure, sheltered Gabrielle, so innocent and so full of promise that she's not much more than a kidnap victim waiting to happen. We are also introduced to a series of military-grade tunnels — its nooks and crannies stocked with guns, knives, and bows and arrows — dug under Rambo's ranch, which seems like a perfect place for a climactic showdown.

Even though the movie isn't very long, it still feels like a bit of a wait before any of this inevitable stuff actually happens, not to mention that a long "trap-setting" montage gives away most of the carnage to come. Stallone slips back into the character easily, carrying a lifetime's worth of hurt and rage and "trying to keep a lid on it," but the attempts to infuse the movie with heart, such as audio-flashbacks to previous "touching" conversations, fall flat. The rest of the characters mean nothing; they are only meant to react to him.

The direction by Adrian Grunberg is mostly serviceable, though sometimes clunky, and Rambo: Last Blood eventually achieves the kind of mindless, primal kick it tries for. But it means nothing, and it's easily forgotten.

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