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goodfellamike's Movie Reviews (745)

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Rambo 
Murdering hundreds is just a walk in the park
2.5/4 stars

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a morally-wounded soldier of fortune who lives a quiet life in Thailand, catching deadly cobras and pythons for a sideshow flophouse that allows him living space in the back. One day he is approached by a group of Christian missionaries led by Michael and Sara Burnette (Paul Schulze and Julie Benz). They need Rambo's help to get up a dangerous river into Burma to deliver medicine and supplies to the sick and wounded villagers who have been massacred by a sadistic Colonel and his personal army. The Colonel has been committing genocide to build his army out of the young boys whose families are slaughtered. Rambo warns Michael and Sara of such a trek, but is eventually persuaded to lead them. Soon, he is vindicated in his advice when the army scours the village and takes the missionaries prisoner. Rambo and a motley group of mercenaries are their only hope of rescue.

Rambo is a surprisingly agile 85 minutes long, and doesn't waste much time on exposition, but rams the audience directly into the quest up the river through hostile territory and to the peaceful village that is about to be invaded. Then it wastes no time getting to the action scenes which are gory, explicit and not remotely cartoonish.

The term overkill must have been invented solely to describe the carnage in films of this nature; the amount of death is extraordinary, disturbing and probably what most people paying to see a Rambo movie are expecting. It's a delightfully mindless gore-fest full of exploding body parts, decapitations, disembowelments and flying limbs - definitely not a film for those with weak stomachs. For those who like their films with a massive body count, you could do a lot worse.

The movie falters in getting us to sympathize with anyone. We only like Rambo because he's a badass killing machine who is a man of few words, though he makes those words count. But we've liked him three times before in previous films, and it takes a lot more for a movie to work than simply a likable character. The missionaries and mercenaries are throwaway characters that don't add much, and the sadistic, underdeveloped character of the Colonel is savage and ruthless for no other reason than power. This kind of character has become a stereotype in action films long before the term stereotype was invented. Does anyone really know why the Colonel keeps the missionaries captive for an extended amount of time, but doesn't hesitate to slaughter women and children in the villages? Maybe he's so mad, he's not supposed to make any sense. Maybe I am mad for expecting this kind of film to make any sense.

Writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone does a competent job overall, but he doesn't breathe as much new life into the Rambo franchise as he did into the Rocky series with the recent Rocky Balboa; even the simple title for the film suggests little imagination. He does, however, succeed in creating a violent, visceral experience the likes we probably haven't seen since Rambo III way back in 1988. FInal Grade C+, but a solid C+


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