Grim Pickings / 19 September 2019


Sylvester Stallone returns one last time to reprise the role of John Rambo, the character that gave rise to him as a cinematic action icon, under the direction of GET THE GRINGO’s Adrian Grunberg. Growing up as kid of the eighties, it was often rare for a film to live up to the promise of the key art on the VHS, the greater the scale of action on the slick the lower the budget of the film itself, however it was the sizzle that made the sale, not necessarily the steak itself. That said the bigger the budget and often better the film, the less inspiring the artwork, as there was less of a story needing to be sold, it was the star power of Stallone and Schwarzenegger with a typically huge gun that sealed the deal, case in point RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II or PREDATOR. However those days have long past and Stallone is arguably no longer a contemporary action hero, instead relegated to DTV (see ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES, BACKTRACE etc) and the occasional nostalgia-driven cash-grab (like this one) so his image solely strewn across a bland story-less greyscale poster holding assorted weaponry does little to inspire the imagination. That said the marketing genius behind the poster for RAMBO: LAST BLOOD have in fact captured the tone, tension, drama and action of the film successfully as this is film is one of the most insipid studio action films in some time and a squalid shit-stain on the entire RAMBO franchise.

Immediately from its opening five minutes, where Rambo attempts to save some hikers from a freak storm come flash flood, its established we’re going to watch a water-downed, under-budgeted and completely unnecessary cash-in on a beloved franchise. In the weakest of premises, Rambo’s niece rushes off to Mexico to confront her father as to why he abandoned her as a child, which leads Rambo to follow with an ill-prepared rescue mission that results in him being beaten to pulp and the girl dying, all at the hands of a human trafficking ring. However after a speedy recovery, our crafty veteran rigs up his farm ‘Kevin McCallister style’ and lures the group back to take them down one-by-one in possibly the fastest and bloodiest finale action cinema has ever seen. Outside of establishing that Rambo’s niece, Gabrielle ( Yvette Monreal), is a good student, with an arsehole boyfriend and a strong desire to speak with her father, her character is void of any genuine substance, she is merely a simple plot device. As a lamb to the slaughter, more time is spent inflicting unspeakable horror upon Gabrielle than ever developing her character so while its easy to empathise with her suffering, its hard to make any emotional connection which in turn makes the revenge aspect of the film far less satisfying.
With what RAMBO: LAST BLOOD lacks in character development, it makes up for with an unnecessary amount of characters who did little more than slow the momentum and divert the plot, which would be forgivable had the film not run at under ninety minutes and had such a swift unrewarding climax. If facial trauma, severed limbs and human supernovas are your thing, you’ll be served in spades as while RAMBO: LAST BLOOD doesn’t quite equal the body count of its predecessor RAMBO (2008), it unequivocally is the goriest instalment of the series yet. Sadly the onscreen brutality of the film is delivered far too fast, frequently and without any sense of build that you’ll be left feeling more exhausted than morbidly elated by its abundance of grizzly carnage. RAMBO: LAST BLOOD is a fail from a script level to screen but if you are going to catch the film during its theatrical run, be sure to stick around for the closing credits which are undoubtably the best thing about the entire film!

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD is now showing in cinemas across Australia.

Written by Jarret Gahan.