If you’re looking for a review written by the ultimate diehard fan of Stallone’s ‘80s action hero John Rambo, someone who has seen every movie a dozen times on his own personal Blu-ray collection, then you’re probably reading the wrong review. To be honest, I haven’t even seen 2008’s Rambodespite having had 11 years to do so, but after watching Rambo: Last Blood,I probably didn’t miss very much.

Sylvester Stallone’s Vietnam vet John Rambo is now well-domesticated, living on his horse ranch with his teen niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) and another woman, played by Adriana Barraza, who we assume to be a maid or housekeeper. Gabrielle’s real father left when she was young, but she’s heard from a friend in Mexico that he’s been found, so she heads down to Mexico alone, where she gets into serious trouble. Of course, Rambo follows her down, falls foul of the Mexican crime lords that have taken Gabrielle, all leading to one of those big climaxes with Rambo slaughtering all when they come back to his ranch to kill him.

Rambo
Lionsgate

Setting aside that this sort of revenge-thriller has been done much better since Rambo’s heyday in the ‘80s, Rambo: Last Blood at least starts out as if it’s meant to be more of a dramatic character piece exploring what it’s like to be John Rambo in his days of retirement. The problem with the film’s set-up is that it’s so boring and full of melodrama and overacting you wonder if this really is the Rambo of old or another attempt by Stallone to keep the money train rolling long past his prime. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

Monreal is a fine young actress that has the misfortune of not being given very much to do once she gets to Mexico and is spurned by her birth father. Her “friend” Jezel takes Gabrielle to a bar where she’s drugged and dragged into a local sex ring, and when her uncle comes to rescue her, things just get worse. I won’t get into the deplorable way Gabrielle is treated in the story, but it guarantees that an already-grim affair doesn’t stand a chance at any sort of happy ending.

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The worst infraction by Rambo: Last Blood is that it goes out of its way to make the film’s enemies those “bad Mexicans” we keep hearing our President rant about, giving few of them any personality or character besides just being unrepentant criminals deserving of the way they’re disposed of by Rambo. (Many of them are just doing their job as hired hands.)

Rambo
Lionsgate

Maybe I never got into the whole Rambo franchise, because when Stallone introduced the character back in the ‘80s, it contributed to all the “Rah! Rah! USA!” stuff that was going on under Reagan. Whether on purpose or not, Last Blood does something similar for the racist red hats wanting to “make America great again,” despite the presence of a few underused good Mexicans. One of them, Paz Vega’s journalist Carmen Delgado, serves so little purpose to the story except to fix up Rambo the first time he’s beaten up by the bad guys.

The last act involves Rambo rigging his own ranch up with explosives and booby traps and luring the bad guys back there so he can slaughter them in the most violent and gruesome ways. I imagine one is supposed to root for Rambo with each gory kill, except that he makes it look so easy, there’s absolutely no tension or real conflict. He just kills them one-by-one (or two at a time, in a few cases) leaving the leader for last. When you compare this to the recent Angel Has Fallen, it’s obvious that much of the fault for the film’s blandness falls on director Adrian Gunberg (Get the Gringo) but probably on Stallone himself for co-writing but not directing.

There’s something to say about what First Blood and maybe even it first sequel did in terms of empowering American military vets at a time when they still weren’t getting their due. Last Blood doesn’t have anything to offer except to bum you out, then kill a bunch of people you care so little about that you can’t even muster the enthusiasm to root for their deaths.

Rambo: Last Blood doesn’t just feel dated and quite tone-deaf but also stuck in an era that’s long gone with no need for nostalgia to remind us of it.

Rating: 5/10

9 COMMENTS

  1. So basically… you’re saying hispanics cannot be villains in a movie unless they’re given a sympathetic backstory of some kind? Some villains are just evil with no redeeming qualities. And the evil villain can’t always be the oppressive white man, even though it would make you feel good inside.

  2. I stopped reading your review after you said you didn’t see Rambo (2008), that and your picture on Rotten Tomatos, hahaahah.

  3. “If you’re looking for a review written by the ultimate diehard fan of Stallone’s ‘80s action hero John Rambo, someone who has seen every movie a dozen times on his own personal Blu-ray collection, then you’re probably reading the wrong review. To be honest, I haven’t even seen 2008’s Rambodespite having had 11 years to do so, but after watching Rambo: Last Blood,I probably didn’t miss very much.”

    Stopped after this, both because of the obvious bias and because of the errors. You clearly were picked to do this review just so the movie could get trashed.

  4. i watch this but in end, picture jumped, are there scenes where rambo pulls out with details heart from leaders chest? in my copy, noticed obvious cut, or if it mean to look like that, not quite well cut, because it not followed sound well too, seconds were missing.

  5. manreda said: “in my copy, noticed obvious cut”

    What were you watching, a pirated video?

    FIRST BLOOD was (and still is) a very good character study and and action film. The second and third movies were ridiculous, jingoistic Reagan-era power fantasies. I skipped the 2008 movie, and I doubt I’ll pay money to see this one.

  6. I agree. I have seen all from first to last blood. I dont know what it was i watching, but noticed jump. All other gore seemed in place so i have to see this later better. Someone was put to internet like youtube video one site. They could be often any quality and maybe have accidental cuts.

    Good in last blood is, not too long movie but maybe they could have much more got out of that type action, rambo vs. mexican cartels.

  7. David Morrell, who created Rambo in his 1972 novel “First Blood,” tweeted that RAMBO: LAST BLOOD is a “mess” and that he’s embarrassed to have his name on it.

  8. “Those “bad Mexicans” we keep hearing President rant about, giving few of them any personality or character besides just being unrepentant criminals deserving of the way they’re disposed of by Rambo. (Many of them are just doing their job as hired hands.)”

    If this movie’s intent was to be xenophobic. Then Maria and Gabrielle’s late mother would have been caucasian, Gabrielle would have been mixed heritage, and the journalist that helps Rambo wouldn’t have even been a part of the story. A movie can’t be both anti-hispanic while including ‘some good ones’.

    I have news for you, while any sensible person would know that not everyone from Mexico is ‘bad’ (or Central and South America in general); the people in the cartels aren’t very nice and honorable people. Do you think the cartels, the kidnappings, drug and sex trafficking are all somehow a myth? Do some research on the Los Zetas. “(Many of them are just doing their job as hired hands.)” Yeah? Same can be said about any mob enforcer or private military mercenary. — Let me ask, did you ever review any movies featuring the Irish Mob in the northeast, and say it portrays all people of Irish descent as bad people? Same goes for the Italian mafia, Russian bratva, Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triad, every single race has a crime syndicate that does bad things to good people. — In the movie, there were plenty of Mexicans (the extras) that were not affiliated with the cartel, in the streets and that nightclub just going about their business. How were they portrayed as bad?

    Just to make my review of your review balanced, there are two points I would agree with.

    “Except that he makes it look so easy, there’s absolutely no tension or real conflict.”
    — The movie’s climax did feel rushed, as the movie was 80-90 minutes. The other bit is that the cartel members got themselves killed too easily. One could say that the surviving cartel leader wanted vengeance so they went after Rambo with blind vengeance, but that isn’t exactly realistic. A number of cartels, Los Zetas being a good example, have a lot of members that were former special forces from various central American nations and a few from the U.S., whom trained the other members accordingly. After Rambo killed Victor and his guards, and raided the brothel, Hugo would have come after Rambo, but he wouldn’t have underestimated him. He would have had at least one guy in the CNI (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia) find out as much about who Rambo was, rather than assuming he was just some old man living alone. In all likelihood they would have come to his ranch at nighttime and in a way that maximizes the element of surprise.– So to wrap this up, the lead villian and his men would have been much smarter about that.

    “..except to bum you out”
    — I agree and admit that what happened to Gabrielle will make it hard for me to want to watch it the second time. It was heartbreaking, and very few scenes get to me. — And yeah it did bum me out. But…tragedy that feels very real isn’t necessarily a flaw.

  9. Human “Sex-Trafficking”, that’s the premise of this movie people, and it’s not for the weakhearted, cuz it’s REAL!

    The film can be difficult for some to watch, but I have to give Sly a “big-thumbs up” for this one. He goes DEEP in telling and showing the “ruthlessness” of this illicit business”!! It’s dirty, sleazy and cut-throat!

    Every female, from middle-school on up, should be required, to see this film?!!

    And yes, there’s is a a lot of ACTION, that goes along with it?! What would a “Rambo” movie be without it, right?

    Oh, and do stay for the closing credits, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!! Beautiful.

    Right-on Sly!!!!!!!!

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