Movie Review: Rambo: Last Blood
It is damning that the most impressive aspect of Rambo: Last Blood is that Bulgaria doubled for Mexico.
Then again, given the sequel's content and delicate state of US-Mexico relations, it is no surprise they chose another location.
Can you imagine having to explain that out of all Mexican characters, only two are "good"?
A Trumpian fever dream of gangs, traffickers, dealers, rapists, murderers... you get the idea.
The last Rambo film was in 2008. Since then, we have had a revenge revolution in the Taken and John Wick series, plus copycats.
Last Blood feels far too late to the party and does little to set itself apart. Sadly, it does not feel like a Rambo film. Instead, the titular character (Sylvester Stallone) appears to have been parachuted into a generic plot.
There is half an hour of clunky exposition that sets up the lonely warrior's new ranch life in Arizona. He is such a good man, people tell him, a lot.
His "niece" (Yvette Monreal) has a great life ahead of her (uh oh). She is off to college (oh dear). She can train horses (eek). (Going off her features, she could also make a killing as an Ariana Grande lookalike).
Of course, something bad will happen to her. Looking for her deadbeat dad across the border in Bulgarian Mexico, she gets abducted by a Mexican cartel.
At this point, Rambo, who has been keeping a lid on his murder skills, rips the lid off.
While not as bloody as 2008's outing, there are many gory moments.
However, while Stallone is 73, he is in better shape and moves faster than the film itself.
The pace is unbalanced, so the bloody grand finale feels tired, tacked-on, rushed and without stakes.
Aside from the gore-splattered body count, this feels closer to a TV movie at times.
From the cliche family drama at the start, to The A-Team-like trap building sequence. And just like old TV shows, images from the entire franchise – including the film you just watched – play under the credits.
If this is to be the fifth and final instalment, you would think Stallone would have learnt from the way the Creed films rejuvenated the Rocky franchise and saw Stallone turning in two magnificent performances.
The Rambo series is not great art. While the first film back in 1982 is well-regarded – an action film with a strong message about rejected Vietnam veterans – the rest have maintained a level of potentially misguided nonsense. After all, he teamed up with the Mujahideen in Rambo III which later some controversy post 9/11.
But with the level of action films today, Rambo deserves a better send-off than this.
FILM: Rambo: Last Blood
STARRING: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal
DIRECTOR: Adrian Grunberg
THE SKINNY: John Rambo (Stallone) has settled at his father’s ranch, putting his violent past behind him. But when his niece (Monreal) is abducted while looking for her father in Mexico, Rambo must dust off his talent for death once more.
Parts of this review have been amended for clarity