Last Blood Feature

Sometimes a movie comes out and you are curious about it, but feel like you have no one to ask. For instance, RAMBO: LAST BLOOD. Don’t worry though, you have me. So ask me. ASK ME!!

Ahem…apologies. Anyway, here we go!

John Rambo
Sylvester Stallone spends some quality time with his best friend, Knife, in a scene from LAST BLOOD. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Does Rambo Feel Like Rambo?

This turns out to be a surprisingly difficult question to answer. When the movie hits about minute 20, it will occur to the viewer that Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is not really a character. Or, at least, he has not been since the first film and maybe, charitably, the first third of the second one. Rambo, at least as far as the cinematic version, is an icon. As such, when he’s not just wrecking shop he really does not feel like Rambo.

Truth be told LAST BLOOD Rambo feels and sounds more like Rocky Balboa with better diction and no heavy accent. Oh and his attempts and philosophy are way more ham-handed than the pugilist.

Is Stallone Good as Rambo?

He isn’t bad, but he’s hamstrung by a lot. For one, as noted above, even by movie five there isn’t really a core understanding of Rambo as a character or a person. Rambo has been mostly defined by what he does not by who he is. So there is just not a lot of Stallone to dig into there.

Sly does play the part full of heaviness and regret though. The attempts at simulating his flashbacks are laughable at best, but his general bearing and carriage speak to how burdened Rambo is. One gets the feeling that his massive frame is not so much a result of an insane workout regimen (and perhaps a little HGH now and then) but just what is necessary to be able to move through life dragging his past around.

This is not going to get him an Oscar nod like CREED did though, if that’s what you are wondering.

Does Anyone Else’s Performances Stand Out?

Sadly, not really. The movie is weirdly too self-serious to let its villains go full scenery chewing but not confident enough in its dramatic opportunities — beyond Rambo himself — to go that route either.

Last Blood: Carmen
Paz Vega tells Rambo to forget it, it’s Mexicotown, in LAST BLOOD. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Does LAST BLOOD Spill As Much, Well, Blood as The Previous Installment

No, but then what could? The previous film, the simply titled RAMBO, featured a prolonged orgy of violence that demanded more Karo Syrup than all the slasher movies made that year.

Do not, however, take that to mean LAST BLOOD is not violent. LAST BLOOD is ridiculously violent. Wildly over the top violent. Do you wish to see one man literally carve another man’s heart out while said victim screams THE ENTIRE TIME? LAST BLOOD has you covered. Ever wanted to see a man’s face trisected by spikes? LAST BLOOD is here for you.

The best way I can put it is that while LAST BLOOD is less consistently violent than RAMBO, when it goes for it, it goes for it.

Rambo Blacksmith
Not to be inappropriate but despite all that fire, Sylvester Stallone is still looking a little chilly. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Are There Arrows?

Oh you bet!

Is There a Headband?

I don’t think so. Rambo has a tighter hair-do these days. Cowboy hats, though!

Are There Helicopters?

None of any great import. However, you see plenty of horses.

Cowboy Hats? Horses? Is RAMBO: LAST BLOOD Really Going for This Last True American Thing?

It feels like that should be the play here, but frankly, I can’t track any follow-through. Besides its vision of foreigners — see below and a fairly dismissive shot of Trump’s fledgling fence — current politics more or less doesn’t exist.

Last Blood Horse
He’s. On. A. Horse! during a scene from LAST BLOOD. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Is It Xenophobic?

Mexico is depicted as a lawless hellscape where the only good person is a reporter, Carmen Delgado (Paz Vega). And even she is a largely ineffectual good person, existing to fellow around the sibling crime bosses Hugo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and Victor Martinez (Óscar Jaenada), saving Rambo after he ill-advisedly tries to take on the whole of Mexican crime, and allowing him to sleep on her couch. Never once does she actively seem to try and stop their operations nor does she seem to be working on an expose to do so.

Anyway, even the non-criminal Mexicans are lousy folks. Manuel (Marco de la O), absentee father of Rambo’s surrogate niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) seems, briefly, like a decent enough guy. But it turns out he’s just pretending so he can whisper something truly heartwrenching to her. Gizelle (Fenessa Pineda), a friend of Gabrielle’s in Mexico, actually only wants to sell her friend out and take her jewelry. And so it goes, south of the border, evidently.

All of this said, the director has done a ton of Spanish language work and has been involved in several productions in Mexico. That does not mean the movie still can’t xenophobic — and I’m inclined to say it is — but it complicates things a bit.

Last Blood: Gabrielle
Yvette Monreal contemplates her future in LAST BLOOD. Things don’t work out as planned. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Is LAST BLOOD Misogynistic?

I think there are too few women to really make that call. That, in and of itself, can tell you something about how “good” this film is on women, though. Mostly, they fall into two camps: victims (Gabrielle, the trafficked prostitutes we see but never know any of their names), Carmen or wicked (Gizelle).

Rambo does not hesitate to hit and terrorize wicked women, though. Given how many men he gives the same treatment, I guess you could argue he sees men and women as equal. But, you know, equally deserving of torture and shocking violence, sooooooooooo…

Is It Visually Interesting?

Sadly, not really. As previously mentioned, one of the films few stylistic flairs involves trying to capture the experience of John Rambo’s flashbacks visually and it is the most predictable bordering on silly attempt to do so.

Largely, Adrian Grunberg, directing his second feature, feels like he would have been a journeyman director in the Hollywood of 30 years ago. He knows how to frame a shot and how to capture action, but nothing in the movie really has a visual punch.

LAST BLOOD: The Martinez Brothers
Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Óscar Jaenada try to convince one another they did, in fact, agree to be part of LAST BLOOD. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Is LAST BLOOD Good?

No, not really. From the opening until the inciting event there exists a sort of ramshackle charm to this old soldier facing down his twilight years. The moment Rambo flips back to killing machine though the whole film just falls apart. It, paradoxically, feels like it has more energy when nothing much happens on-screen.

So Is FIRST BLOOD Author David Morrell Right To Speak Out Against This Depiction Of Rambo?

He’s the man who created the character. Far as I am concerned, he always has the right to say, “Their John Rambo? Nothing like mine.”

That said, “their” Rambo has not been like his since RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD II. So maybe this is more like Morrell just reminding us that, “hey, I intended Rambo to be a meditation on the ongoing pain of Vietnam vets, not an excuse for hyperviolent jingoistic and xenophobic films” because, well, that’s true.

Rambo Arrow
Sylvester Stallone reconnects with his former close friend bow and arrow in LAST BLOOD. (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Will There Be More RAMBOs or is LAST BLOOD Contain a Hint?

I don’t want to spoil anything so I will step carefully here. I will say that this is a movie that could certainly close the franchise. The themes and Rambo’s headspace certainly point towards this being the end of the road regardless of if LAST BLOOD is meant to be an accurate statement or not. However, when it comes to franchises, one just needs an idea — and not even much of one — to bring the icon back if the box office turns out strong.

Does Nick Fury Show Up To Offer John Rambo a Membership to the Avengers?

You joke — and what a funny joke it is — but the movie does feature during/after the credits content. Predominantly, it is a highlight reel of all the previous films. However, at the end of that lies the true last scene of the movie. So, you know, stick around if you want. It’s kinda cool to see Rambo open fire with a ridiculous gun on a bank of computers if you haven’t see RAMBO III in a while.

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