This evening’s movie:
The film has a very simple plot, with minimal character development and abbreviated storytelling, all leading up to an extremely over-the-top and gory finale…which is exactly what I expected. I’ve never sought out a Rambo movie for clever dialogue, elaborate plots, subtlety or restraint, so I got exactly the movie I paid to see.
Dating back to when I first watched The Deadly Trackers…
…and The Outlaw Josey Wales…
…in theaters as a young kid, I’ve seen so many of these Revenge-Thriller action flicks that the formula’s become overly familiar to me (bad guys harm hero’s loved one(s), hero seeks revenge and finds it, via direct violence). The characters and their circumstances change, but the basic plot remains the same, whether it’s a Death Wish sequel, Rolling Thunder, Kill Bill or John Wick.
For me, a satisfying movie in this sub-genre is one that utilizes economical storytelling after establishing its primary characters and preliminary situation in the same manner, then builds to its inevitable slam-bang-boom conclusion. A Revenge flick that fails to satisfy is one that either takes way too long (The Revenant) or skimps on depicting its villains’ comeuppance (Family Honor, A Vigilante, just to name two such examples, though that’s not always a fatal flaw for me; The Limey didn’t end quite like I had hoped it would, but it still wound up being one of my favorites the year it was released).
Frankly, with Rambo: Last Blood, while I recognized and appreciated the film’s effort at establishing its characters and their relationships, and the conflict that set the whole story in motion, I found myself feeling impatient waiting for the plot to really take off. It wasn’t until the big finale, really the last 30 minutes of this 89-minute movie, that I was fully able to forget that I was watching a movie. That’s not a reflection on the movie so much as it is on myself as someone who’s seen a ton of these movies over the past (nearly) fifty years.
Unlike the first two Rambo sequels, the combat violence in Rambo (2008) was more akin to that shown in Saving Private Ryan, so I assumed this latest film would go the same route. It did. Very graphic, brutal and gory, with much of it improbable, but satisfying, nonetheless.
My own ranking of the Rambo franchise, after viewing the latest entry this evening:
- First Blood (1982)
- Rambo (2008)
- Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
- Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)
- Rambo III (1988)
The first two sequels in the franchise sit firmly at the bottom of my list; I’ve never thought much of either, even when I was a teenager in the Eighties.