I am now going to give you one of the most biased movie reviews you’ve probably ever read. The difference is that, unlike everyone else, I will clearly disclose my bias.
First Blood is one of my favorite movies of all time. Rambo is a character I grew up with. I consider Sylvester Stallone to be a personal role model. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he’s ever said or done, just that I consider his rags-to-riches success story, fantastic work ethic, and impressive aging as things to emulate. 1980s action movies were such a big part of my childhood that I think some aspects of my personality today were formed by them, at least to a small degree.
Rambo 2 and Rambo 3 were silly but fun movies I enjoyed when I was a young man. The 2008 Rambo movie was one of the best action movies of the entire 2000s and I still re-watch it to this day when I have time.
So, I’m a huge Rambo fan, Stallone fan, and 80s action fan, and I’m sure that’s going to color my opinion of this movie. Keep that in mind when you read this review.
This movie was fucking beautiful. I’m actually shocked that it wasn’t stupid and that the dialog wasn’t lame. Yes, the action was awesome, but that’s to be expected. Quality action is a standard baseline a hardcore action movie like this needs to at least meet, and it does.
My point is that everything else wasn’t bad. The acting was actually pretty good. One of the actors is actually Academy-nominated (Adriana Barraza). The dialog, while not Shakespearean (it’s a fucking Rambo movie, c’mon), isn’t bad at all, and I actually liked some of the lines.
“I can’t control what’s out there.”
“I tried to come home, but I never really arrived.”
The characters, all of them, actually make sense and you understand their motivations. Even when they do something really dumb (and one in particular does something very dumb), it makes sense for the character.
The character of Rambo stays intact. I always worry that a new Rambo movie will make Rambo do or say things that Rambo wouldn’t say or do, and that didn’t happen. As David Morrell has said (the guy who wrote the book upon which the first Rambo movie was based), these new Rambo movies finally understand the character of Rambo (which Rambo 2 and Rambo 3 did not), a deeply disturbed and flawed man with incurable PTSD from the Vietnam War, not a superhero.
It dawned on me after watching this movie that this is the first film in which Rambo battles truly evil people. In first movie he fights a few hick cops. In the second, third, and fourth movies he battles soldiers. Sometimes ‘bad’ soldiers, but just soldiers doing a job. In this movie, he goes up against villains who are truly the scum of the Earth. And I’ve researched enough regarding the Mexican cartels to know that what was portrayed in this movie was not exaggerated. Some really horrible things happen to innocent people in this movie, and yeah, that shit happens in real life.
I won’t give away any plot details other than to say that this a very dark film that doesn’t really have a happy ending, which is good. The movie tricks you into thinking that it’ll be a Rambo version of Taken when it suddenly does a hard right and becomes a Rambo version of Home Alone, in a good way.
The violence, like in any Rambo movie, is extreme. People get their heads blown off, their limbs blown off, their organs ripped out, and so on. This is not a movie for people with weak stomachs or fragile egos. It’s a fuckin’ Rambo movie. I really liked a scene in particular where Rambo fires four arrows into a certain pattern (shown in the trailers) and later you find out exactly why he does that.
This movie doesn’t hit you over the head with action. It slowly ramps up to it for a giant, long finale. I really like action movies that do this, the ones with little to no action at the start but slowly burn towards a craptastic and mind-blowing action conclusion. (The movie that does this better than any other is the Hong Kong action film SPL: Sha Po Lang.)
Seeing Rambo again, hearing that Rambo theme song again, a stirring piece of music I’ve been listening to since 1982, man, it just made me smile. Well done, Stallone.
As I demonstrated at this article here, today’s movie critics have become unable to remove their political opinions from their enjoyment, or lack thereof, from the movies they watch. Therefore this movie is getting poor reviews, not because it’s a bad movie (it’s a great movie), but because it shows some Mexicans doing bad things (while most of the key Mexican characters are very good people doing very good things, and Stallone is the only white person in the entire movie) and Toxic Masculinity™. So, it’s doing the Dave Chappelle thing where the scores from (the largely left-wing) critics are low but scores from audiences are very high.
Rambo: Last Blood is fantastic. It’s not perfect, and it’s not even the best Rambo movie. Doesn’t matter. To watch Stallone kick so much ass at age 73 is a wonder to behold. I highly, highly recommend it.
Before I go, here are my rankings for every Rambo movie in order of how good they are:
If you have not seen First Blood, dude! What the hell? Watch it RIGHT NOW. It’s a classic and always will be.