Movie Review: "Rambo: Last Blood"
Rambo: Last Blood
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has seen more than his share of war. He has lived and thrived in one of the darkest parts of humanity, but now he is trying to live a calm, normal life. Rambo has a ranch where he trains and cares for horses, and he has taken in an old friend (Adriana Barraza) and her granddaughter, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). They each have had a troubled past, but the three have formed a happy family together.
Gabrielle’s mother died, and her father left when she was very young. After learning her father’s current whereabouts, and despite Rambo and her grandmothers stern warnings, Gabrielle decides to travel to Mexico for answers. She goes to Mexico searching for her father, but she finds something much worse than she was hoping for, as she gets abducted by a group of very bad men. Although not by blood, Gabrielle is very much Rambo’s daughter. When he learns what happens, he sets out for Mexico with very bad intentions.
The Pros & Cons
Rambo & Gabrielle (+5pts)
No Holding Back (+5pts)
The Action (+6pts)
Pro: Rambo & Gabrielle (+5pts)
I knew the premise of this movie, and I knew the type of movie I was seeing, so I entirely expected Gabrielle to be a generic, poorly developed character. I also expected the relationship between her and Rambo to be just as generic. Let us be honest, movies like this are generally mindless, popcorn munching fun. They are not exactly known for their elaborate plots or strong character development, so I was pleasantly surprised to be proven very wrong regarding my assumption toward Gabrielle.
The filmmakers did not do much to setup how or why Rambo knows and cares about Gabrielle and her grandmother. However, they effectively setup that Gabrielle means a lot to Rambo. This was important in making the action mean something. You get that Gabrielle is essentially his daughter, so you get his desperation to save her, and his rage toward the ones who have hurt her. This made it incredibly easy to get invested in what was happening.
Con: Relation (-3pts)
Like I said before, the filmmakers did not do a great job of explaining who Gabrielle and her grandmother were to Rambo. I got that he cared about them, but I did not get why. Were they random people he found on the street? Did they have some kind of shared experience?
This part of the story was unclear. The filmmakers were able to overcome this with Rambo’s relationship with Gabrielle, but they did not do so with her grandmother. This just made the character feel random. I knew that there was some history there, but I did not get the impression that Rambo cared about her more than he would for any random, innocent bystander. I understood that the character was supposed to mean something to Rambo, but I did not feel that. Explaining how Rambo knew these two characters would have gone a long way in making the grandmother feel relevant to the story.
Pro: No Holding Back (+5pts)
There were a few moments throughout this movie that stood out to me, in terms of the filmmakers not trying to "play it safe". The plot of this movie deals with some heavy subject matter, and the filmmakers were not afraid to go all in. A lot of movies would imply these things, but would almost go out of their way to not show it on screen. Gabrielle has been abducted by some bad people, and bad people do bad things.
Many movies would have implied the risk that Gabrielle faced, but would have had the antagonists refrain to give the protagonist a shot at saving her before she was harmed in any way. The filmmakers of this movie knew that, in order to do that, it would mean pulling back the reigns on their antagonists, which would feel oddly convenient for Rambo and Gabrielle. Another example of the filmmakers not holding back was how enraged Rambo was. The character is messed up after all the war he has seen, is desperate to save Gabrielle, and he is pissed off. Rambo would definitely not hold back in his current situation. He would show his enemies as much brutality as possible, and the filmmakers of this movie did not hold him back for the sake of being less violent. I understand wanting to tone down the violence to make movies more "commercial", but the filmmakers of this movie respected how their characters would behave in their respective situations, and I liked that the filmmakers were not afraid to show their characters' darker sides.
Con: Predictable (-2pts)
The movie was a bit predictable. I definitely made a few confident predictions that the filmmakers ended up going a different way with, but for the most part, it was easy to see where this movie was going. That is not necessarily a huge problem, as the number of points I assigned to this issue would suggest. It was an action movie with a simple plot, and simple plots have a way of being predictable. There were certainly a few spots where I expected the story to zig, only for it to zag, but for the most part the movie went pretty much exactly as you would expect it would. It is not a major issue for a movie such as this one, but I would be lying if I said that having a predictable plot did not take some of the fun out of watching a movie.
Pro: The Action (+6pts)
The action in this movie was pretty strong. It was Rambo doing his thing. He set up deadly traps, killed with guns, killed with arrows, killed with explosives, and killed with blades. The movie was far from constant action, beginning to end, but the action that was in here was entertaining.
The filmmakers definitely delivered a satisfying, action packed climax. It was so satisfying because of Rambo’s rage, as he was taking out every ounce of his frustration on the ignorant baddies. There is something fun about having a dangerous, badass character going up against a bunch of baddies who have no idea what they are getting themselves into. They just thought they were going to kill an old man, and boy did they wildly underestimate their situation.
Con: Reckless (-2pts)
There was a scene that Rambo was way too reckless. He underestimated his enemy, and went in unprepared. The filmmakers clearly did this to make Rambo feel less unstoppable, to make the antagonists feel like more of a threat, and to make the movie longer. Unfortunately, this seemed uncharacteristic of Rambo. If anything, he is the type of character that would be over prepared and would study his enemy thoroughly before going in. I get that he was desperate and emotional, but this was hardly the first time the character was emotional in combat. I get the reasons that the filmmaker’s had for doing it, but the recklessness seemed uncharacteristic of Rambo.
Grade: B- (84pts)
I went into this movie expecting generic characters, generic relationships, and a generic plot. That is absolutely fine for an action movie like this, because that is kind of what you sign up for when getting the ticket. I was then very pleasantly surprised to find that the filmmakers delivered something more than all of that. I thought the filmmakers could have done a better job of explaining how Rambo knew Gabrielle and her grandmother, but the relationship between Rambo and Gabrielle was handled really well.
In every way except for blood, Gabrielle is Rambo's daughter. He cares about her and wants to keep her safe, but she ends up getting abducted by bad men. The plot from there is a simple one, but it is effective because of how well the filmmakers setup the relationship between Rambo and Gabrielle. He is desperate, he is enraged, and all of that came out during the action sequences. The movie had its minor plot issues, but the action was brutal and filled with emotion, which made it very satisfying and easy to get invested in. I was expecting an average action-flick, but this movie ended up exceeding my expectations.