Rambo: Last Blood
Hellbent on ensuring all his film franchises die only at their nadir, Sylvester Stallone resurrects Rambo for one final fight. This time, the titular character is pitted against the Mexican cartel after his surrogate niece Gabrielle (Yvette Montreal) – granddaughter of old friend Maria (Adriana Barraza), with whom he lives on a horse ranch inherited from his late father – gets kidnapped by trafficking gangs after she heads to the country to locate her biological dad.
Paz Vega gets a thankless role as investigative journalist Carmen Delgado, only existing to facilitate the hero’s rest and recovery because no man, not even John Rambo, can survive alone against the significant manpower of the cartel, who stop him in his search for Gabrielle and slice his face as a warning to never return. Hopefully Vega hasn’t had to do the press circuit, because there’s nothing for her to say about her character or her co-star’s inevident reason for bringing Rambo out of retirement.
As Gabrielle suffers emotional abuse, gets kidnapped, drugged and raped, the first hour contains more miserablism than a Ken Loach drama. Understandably, this series isn’t supposed to be “fun” when you consider the post-war theme of First Blood – though the sequels are 80s gung-ho machismo – but Last Blood is an absolute downer. One depressing sequence after another, and it’s difficult to be emotionally engaged when it’s all so transparently designed to put us through the ringer before the big vengeance-fuelled finale rather than for creating a meaningful story in the Rambo canon.
The final 20 minutes are violently satisfying and satisfyingly violent, almost redeeming the woeful groundwork, especially with the slick use of The Doors’ Five to One. But the climax is over so quickly and hurriedly wrapped up. Without the ability to craft a decent farewell scene in any way, director Adrian Grunberg lazily wraps things up by sending Rambo off with a credits montage of his best moments across the five movies.
Unabashedly depicting the relationship between Mexico and the USA in black and white, this film is so clumsily conservative in its politics that one wonders if it could’ve been saved by a talented right-leaning filmmaker like S Craig Zahler giving the script a rewrite. It’s hard to imagine Zahler’s patient sensibilities aligning with the ultra-brisk plotting of the series but this entry would have certainly benefited from his pen in some way. In its actual state, though, Last Blood is a dismal and pointless endeavour.
Rambo: Last Blood is released nationwide on 19th September 2019.
Watch the trailer for Rambo: Last Blood here: