Released on September 20th 2019, “Rambo: Last Blood” is the sixth entry in the long running “Rambo” franchise. Starring Sylvester Stallone as the titular John Rambo, a timeless action hero who began his legacy back in 1982, the plot follows an aged Rambo attempting to save a teenage girl from a vicious Mexican gang, all the while he is fighting the urge to descend back into his violent past through severe coping methods like medication and constructing rat tunnels reminiscent of those constructed by the Vietcong during the war.
Despite its short 1 hour and 39 minute run time, Rambo has an extremely slow beginning. This might be interpreted as an attempt to call back to the less action focused original movie, “First Blood,” but any emotional weight from the first movie has since been drained out, leaving characters who are there just long enough to get on one’s nerves.
Between the subpar writing and acting, the plot struggled to elicit any emotion from the audience other than annoyance. This is partly due to Rambo himself who, at least at the start, is barely a shell of his former self. Gone is the damaged Vietnam veteran from the first film, or the badass commando of the latter entries. All that’s left is a tired old man stumbling blindly around the dangerous streets of Mexico.
It isn’t until the movie’s second act where things start to become somewhat interesting. Without delving into spoilers, the action does pick up to a more exciting degree. The final few minutes are especially fun for fans of explosive and bloody action sequences that call back to a time where action heros dominated the silver screen. The special effects, which thus far had been embarrassingly awful, pick up as more practical stunts are put to use.
Even the setting of the battle is thrilling, taking place in the claustrophobic tunnels that forced the enemy to fight on Rambo’s terms. But aside from the action, there is little else of note anywhere throughout the movie, save one sequence that delves unnecessarily deep into the realities of prostitution and human trafficking. While such a dark topic may fit a more mature movie, here it comes off as tasteless and needlessly cruel, only serving to make the audience hate a villain that was already fairly loathsome.
It was of little surprise to learn that this was only the second movie by director Adrian Grunberg. It largely comes off as unpolished, with story threads that don’t go anywhere, scenes that are remarkably similar taking place one after the other, and shoddy camera work that resembles a student’s film project instead of a Hollywood production.
In the end, the movie has little qualities to redeem it. While some may be satisfied with the admittedly entertaining action sequences, many are likely to be turned off by the film’s clearly meager skills behind the scenes, as well as bland and, at times, vulgar plot.
Hopefully, “Rambo: Last Blood” will honor its name and be the final installment in this iconic series.
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