The newest – and ostensibly final – film in the series, Adrian Grünberg’s Rambo: Last Blood, brings the series full circle by giving us a taste of both Rambos. At the film’s outset, John Rambo (Stallone once more) is living on a ranch, riding horses, and holding palpable familial relationships with his teenage niece (Yvette Monreal) and would-be love interest (Adriana Barraza from The Strain). Rambo, it seems, might have actually found inner peace at last.
Although perhaps not; He has also personally dug a labyrinth of weapon-lined death tunnels under his Arizona property which will most certainly be used in an ultra-violent late-film climax wherein Rambo will murder several dozen people in increasingly gory ways.
The level of gore in this film is absurdly intense. Taking after the 2008 film, the makers of Last Blood have elected to turn Rambo’s battlefield antics into something resembling a slasher movie, or perhaps an early Peter Jackson joint. By the time the filmmakers hasten to the eyeball-melting action at their film’s climax, one can feel their sigh of relief in finally being able to depict outright decapitations, severed feet, exploding heads, and at least one makeshift vivisection.
Get a sense of Rambo: Last Blood’s goriness by watching the red band spot below:If the idea of Rambo laying waste to several tons of human meat sounds exhilarating, know that your eventual laughter will likely be of the bitter, incredulous variety. The violence is over-the-top in a way that isn’t fun. Last Blood feels like the work a disaffected adolescent pulling the wings off of flies.
And who are these people Rambo is murdering? The impetus for the film’s action comes from a plot that closely resembles Taken in both its setup, its older dad action fantasy, and its cultural insensitivity. When the Monreal character goes to Mexico to find her estranged father, she is almost instantly kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery by two cartoonishly evil Mexican crime lords (Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Óscar Jaenada) who revel in filth the same way you or I might revel in a warm bath. It is then up to Rambo to attempt to rescue her, hence running afoul of said crime lords and beginning a hastily escalating rivalry. Paz Vega has a small role as a deliverer of exposition.
The filmmakers have made Mexico seem like an infinite wasteland of crime and death, and most of the Latinx characters on screen are criminals or broad stereotypes. I understand that Rambo films have rarely been bastions of cultural togetherness, but in 2019, these broad stereotypes are offensive and dated and downright irresponsible.
Get caught up on the saga of John Rambo by watching the recap below:To Stallone’s credit, he manages to give as soulful a performance as the part warrants. The early scenes allow the 73-year-old actor to give Rambo a distant glimmer of humanity lurking underneath all the surface-level combat trauma, a glimmer that had been largely absent from the previous Rambo sequels. He’s also appropriately menacing; I was convinced that John Rambo, even in his 70s, could reach into my neck with his bare hands and handily remove my collarbone, should the urge strike him.
At a trim 89 minutes, Last Blood will certainly not leave you waiting; if you’re here for violence and badassery, you’ll get to it before you’ve finished your extra large Dr. Pepper. If you’ve come for thoughtfulness, tragedy, character, wit, and a political statement on the effects of war – in short, if you’ve come for anything that was in the original First Blood – then perhaps you’d find solace in a different theater. Or just at home, a safe distance away from Last Blood.