The legacy of John Rambo lives on in Rambo: Last Blood. With the name Rambo having become a household term, even decades after the initial release of Rambo: First Blood, this action-packed movie is full of mayhem and, as the title promises, delivers plenty of blood.
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is the absolute best ex-military combatant, and he’s seen some very bad situations go south in his past. He has killed many people in the names of justice and vengeance, so it’s a huge mistake to mess with him. However, he makes an earnest effort to peacefully deal with his PTSD on his ranch, harmlessly crafting weapons in his underground bunker. He even has a love interest named Maria (Adriana Barraza) who tries to help him find his sweet side.
When his adopted niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) heads down to Mexico to find her deadbeat father before going off to college, she falls into the hands of a Mexican sex-trafficking crime boss named Hugo Martinez (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) who recognizes her value as if she were actually sold.
Rambo heads down past the border wall to beat up some baddies but ends up in his own perilous predicament and is beaten up badly. He must lure them back home where he’s better able to take care of them all on his own terms.
The focus could have been a sweet nod to the many American veterans like John Rambo who are wounded emotionally and physically. Instead, the film sadly showcases human trauma as a vehicle for becoming a killing machine.
Director Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo) seems determined to focus on Mexican-American relations throughout his film and television career. In Rambo: Last Blood it’s hard to tell whether he has an agenda of making films in which he portrays many Mexicans as the rapist/drug-dealing type, or whether he’s just incorporating political sentiment into his style.
Stallone (Rocky, Rambo) co-writing with Dan Gordon (Wyatt Earp, The Hurricane) knows the craft of forming desperate characters who are not afraid to kill everyone around them in order to do the right thing. But perhaps someone should give Rambo the advice that if everyone around him is a jerk, the problem might actually be him. Cultural sensitivity is out the window, and stereotypes work here to provide fuel for his undying rage.
Rambo: Last Blood delivers more of the same: the body count is high, and the budget for explosions isn’t lacking. The crisp, well-shot scenes display a modern movie, especially without any out-of-place 80’s fist-pump songs behind the action bits. Sylvester Stallone brings his A-game to play Rambo yet again, and he proves that age hasn’t slowed him down. But It’s a solid action movie only if the audience can turn off their aversion to a gorier, shallower offensive rehash.