In the immortal words of John Rambo: “to survive a war, you gotta become war.” That’s exactly what Sly Stallone serves up in the latest and sadly last installment in the Rambo franchise. Penned from a script written by Stallone and Matt Circulnick, it’s a compelling story about a man with nothing left to lose who goes to battle for the people he cares about most. It’s about 90 minutes or so of action, revenge, and some insanely memorable death scenes.
The film opens with a nice montage of Rambo living back on his family’s ranch in Arizona, not too far from the Mexican border. Here, John trains horses and assists his old friend Maria (Adriana Beltran) with raising his stepdaughter, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). Gabrielle is about to graduate high school and has everything a kid could want — except the truth about her actual parents. Curious to know why her biological father Miguel (Marco de la O) left her and her deceased mother behind, Gabrielle goes into Mexico in search of her dad against Rambo and her grandmother’s wishes.
Things don’t go quite as expected for Gabrielle during her arrival into Mexico. She winds up being drugged and kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and forced into an underground sex trafficking ring. Alerted by Gabrielle’s disappearance by Gabrielle’s grandmother, Rambo journeys into Mexico to get her back. When he is met with some brutal resistance by cartel leaders Hugo and Victor Martinez, he resorts to his old combat skills to get her back.
Last Blood, first and foremost, is a fantastic film. Stallone and Circulnick do an impressive job bringing the film full circle, but here, heroics are exchanged for sweet bloody revenge. The movie reels you in while it gains empathy for the characters leading up to an intensely violent third act. What separates it the most from the other films is the trade-off of Rambo’s stealth mode tactics in the jungle to the street of Mexico and the underground lair of his ranch instead.
Even so, the film still scores well and if you’ve ever seen the previous films then you can expect twice as much blood, gore, and magnified acts of violence. Rambo channels his inner John Kramer (Jigsaw) as we watch him set up heinous traps on his ranch for his unsuspecting cartel victims. The brutality and creative deaths that Stallone and Circulnick come up with are worth the price of admission alone. I found myself yelling “hell yeah” at the screen MANY times.
Rambo has always been one of my favorite action series of all-time and it was good to see a lot of the things that make this character so unique still in check. Stallone and Circulnick even include his PTSD which he’s struggled with since the earlier films. It’s not highlighted a lot in the film but it was a nice touch just to show the weight of how he’s carried the burdens of war from Vietnam to his family ranch. Also still in tact is composer/musician Brian Tyler, who lends some familiar tunes to the film’s awesome soundtrack. The only thing missing from Rambo in this film is the headband, but you barely miss it.
The thing I’ve always loved most about John Rambo is how he personifies what it means to be a soldier, but more importantly a decent human being. He’s always putting himself on the front line and thinking of others before himself. Despite how much loss and pain he’s been through, he continues to be there for others. He’s the true embodiment of a hero. Hopefully, in the near future, we may get a sequel to one of my other favorite Stallone films, Cobra.
Rambo: Last Blood is a terrific film that will make you laugh, cry, and root for the good guy by the end of the movie. Its a great send-off for a character who has transcended over three decades. If you love a good action flick with a lot of bloody good violence, than you’ll definitely want to check out this film. I highly recommend seeing this movie in the loudest theater you possibly can.
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