'Y'know what you are, what you're made of. War is in your blood. When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing.'- Rambo, John. J.
The new Rambo film delivers where it counts. Stallone continues to perform and the action scenes are explosive and uber-realistic. Hell, I'll make no bones about it, the action scenes are the best I can remember both in terms of quality and quantity - there are a total of 236 deaths, averaging out at 2.59 kills per minute! The Burmese army were also well played and I loved the evil, local military leader who spoke few words but said it all with his 'not a care in the world' facial expression, as he cruelly ordered the massacre of innocent villagers. For this guy, killing had become an almost mundane routine. The problem lie with the Christian charity workers (although the female lead was passable) and the cartoon mercenaries. Not only were both groups overly caricatured but the actors themselves seemed pretty bad. This contrasts with the first Rambo ('Rambo: First Blood'), where the local town sheriff was played by Brian Dennehy and one of his deputies was played by David Caruso. Both played their parts well and went on to much success. I can't see the same happening with the actors in the new Rambo. It's okay though, because the film still holds together to mark a massive turnaround in the franchise.
I've collected some important clips to help us understand John. J. Rambo:
The first clip shows the last 10 minutes of the Rambo: First Blood (1982). Listen to the dialogue from from 4 minutes in. Having seen this film many times, I have come to realise that society created the Rambo monster and dealt with it in the worst possible. They abandoned him.
If only the army had supported him, if only society had been more understanding, if some of his army friends had survived. If only. It all kicked off with the local sheriff, who is a hard head, but Rambo was a powder keg waiting to explode. It was inevitable.
The clip below shows the original ending for Rambo: First Blood, in which Rambo commits suicide. It's crucial knowledge, because even though the film didn't end with Rambo's death, it shows how desperately alone the character feels.
This is the flash back scene in the new Rambo film. Notice that at the end of this scene, Stallone wisely chose to include the suicide clip. Blink and you'll miss it, but it is there, perhaps illustrating to Rambo fans that Stallone also understands the character's pain.
From the latest Rambo film:
Sarah: You know you never told us your name.
John Rambo: John.
Sarah: Lived here a long time?
John Rambo: Long time.
He's not wrong. Rambo: First Blood was released in 1982, Rambo II in 1985, Rambo III in 1988, and the new Rambo some twenty years later in 2008. In the intervening twenty years, it appears that John Rambo seems to better understand who he is, what he has become. He has found a corner of the world where he can 'exist' without too much outside interference. However, Rambo remains permanently scarred and he is still alone, a troubled individual. He has no time for small talk, for show, for ego, and he knows hell better than anyone.