RAMBO: LAST BLOOD – A Final Hurrah for the Veteran Killing Machine

John J Rambo, one of the great 80’s action heroes, a man who was a trained patriotic killer, who lived by a code and if you broke it you were fucked. He’s now 70yrs old and a little slower but who has the same moral code is back for another outing in LAST BLOOD.

Sly Stallone made up my childhood with Rambo and Rocky is back for one revenge slaughter, to much more slowly take down bad guys. Think LOGAN to Hugh’s Wolverine, Sly is the master of coming back over and over and over. How is the man still so bloody fit at 70?! He is already in talks to make another TANGO AND CASH. This I am all for!

Kernel Elie caught RAMBO: LAST BLOOD over the weekend and reviews for us all now. The film is released by Roadshow Films, it is rated R18+ and runs for 89mins. Enjoy Elie’s thoughts……..all the best……..Salty.

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone – Rambo

BY ELIE ELKORR

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD SYNOPSIS:

Retired war veteran John Rambo is called upon to unleash his cold-blooded, unflinching, instincts for one final mission when a teenage girl is subject to vile human trafficking and prostitution from a Mexican cartel.  

Rambo: Last Blood Óscar Jaenada and Yvette Monreal
Óscar Jaenada and Yvette Monreal

SYLVESTER STALLONE IS JOHN J. RAMBO

Ever since John J. Rambo first appeared on the big screen in 1982’s FIRST BLOOD, the stone-cold killing machine has become an embodiment of Stallone himself. Both ROCKY and RAMBO form the bedrock of Stallone’s repertoire, two iconic characters of the ’80s. Fast forward to 2019 and Stallone is reprising his role for what appears to be his last outing four decades after the soldier drew First Blood.

Stallone does a great job once again portraying the iconic character. Sure, his character is restricted to conveying a limited amount of emotions, but Rambo is not renown for teddy bear cuddling and spring fields of joy. The man is a merciless killing badass and when Stallone has that bloodthirsty chilled look, shit’s about to go down. When it comes to having that “I am about to end your life look,” Stallone does a perfect job at fulfilling it.

Rambo: Last Blood Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

The significant aspect about John Rambo in LAST BLOOD is that the character is no longer the immortal testosterone jacked soldier he once was. Rather, LAST BLOOD portrays Rambo as a vulnerable individual attempting to put a lid on his past. Even when confronted with the inevitable threat, Rambo makes rash decisions which forces him to realise that he can no longer walk into enemy turf and be a one-man wrecking crew.

There was nothing outstanding about the supporting cast within RAMBO: LAST BLOOD. None of the performances were dreadful; they were just…. fine. Yvette Monreal as Gabrielle has a few touching moments with Stallone, and it is in fact her character that eventually generates some empathetic reactions from Rambo, however little he may appear to have.

Rambo: First Blood Sylvester Stallone and Adriana Barraza
Adriana Barraza and Sylvester Stallone

A SLOW BURNER TO START WITH

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD does take a while to get going. For an 89-minute runtime LAST BLOOD feels devoid of substance for the majority of the first and second acts. Many of these scenes detail what Rambo has been up to since riding on the back of his horse into his ranch in 2008’s RAMBO. The war veteran has been occupied creating a system of underground tunnels, training his horses, and becoming fluent in Spanish whilst living with his new ‘surrogate’ family. There is little to no explanation as to how and why Rambo came to be in this position in LAST BLOOD. In fact, there is little explanation for many plot threads in LAST BLOOD. Such examples include the Mexican cartel managing to cross the border with fully armed soldiers and black S.U.V’s without any conflict.

And then, LAST BLOOD tends to look cheap with noticeable green-screen backgrounds.

The route of cliched stereotypical Mexican cartel has been abused in cinema, and the villains in LAST BLOOD don’t differ being just one-dimensional stubborn villains with one purpose.

LAST BLOOD, however, avoids the obvious ‘drug cartel’ and takes a confronting and disturbing path focusing on human trafficking and the disgusting manipulation of women. This approach by the filmmakers provides rewarding results, displaying a vexing portrait of human degradation.

Gabrielle’s decision to visit her father in Mexico is overtly predictable and LAST BLOOD hinges on this decision to form the main conflict of the film. However, there is one scene involving a character which easily could have been glossed with a cookie-cutter resolution. Instead, LAST BLOOD throws a curveball that renders Rambo’s metaphorical lid completely non-existent. The stage for the third act has been set.

Rambo: Last Blood Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

THIRD ACT – 80’s TESTOSTERONE MACABRE MAGIC

*** SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH ***

LAST BLOOD’s third act is a total massacre. Yes, the ultimate result is predictable but damn it was relentless. There is an excellent use of lighting and on-location set pieces involving the underground tunnels and Rambo’s ranch. There are decapitations, impalings, and body parts flying everywhere. R-Rated heaven. Some of the kills were gut-wrenching and cringeworthy. At one point, two helpless cartel soldiers become impaled on a set of nails after falling through a trapdoor. It does not stop there. As they lay moaning, the beast himself unleashes a fully automatic assault rifle clip on their helpless bodies to help ease their passing. A guy’s face was sliced in two horizontally. Total macabre mayhem. Just pure Rambo awesome.

Rambo: Last Blood Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

IN CONCLUSION:

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD does take a while to get going and a few things will leave you scratching your head about how individual plot threads come to fruition. The payoff, however, is worth it, brimming with hardcore testosterone violence that is an excellent call-back to 80’s action. LAST BLOOD ends on a satisfying yet ambiguous note. Fans of the 37-year-old franchise will also feel a sense of nostalgia as the final credits roll. Farewell John J. Rambo.

YOUR CRITIC:

Elie Elkorr is a proud film critic and writer for Salty Popcorn. He is a movie fanatic and also runs his own Twitter page for movie reviews and news @TweetEReviews1. He likes calling out movies when they provide social commentary rather than focusing on actual story and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. His views are his own. He is also a Law and Film student on the side and is the heir to being Black Widow’s Boyfriend. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.