Great action film or greatest action film?


By Jeremy Azevedo
Something many people forget about the first Rambo film was that there were serious undertones behind the comically extreme violence and frequent explosions.

This may not have been quite as prevalent in later films, but the fourth and final Rambo film, soon to hit theaters, is somewhat of a return to form. The new Rambo is a natural evolution of the action film as required by a new audience that is both more sophisticated and also more bloodthirsty than audiences were 20 years ago.

Rambo tearing out some guy’s throat for stealing his Hot Pocket out of the freezer.

Obviously it’s very difficult to revisit a character as iconic as Rambo after a nearly twenty-year absence. Some people will want straightforward action and others will expect a more mature handling of the subject matter. The new Rambo does a little of both. It offered the requisite thrills from start to finish while at the same time raising awareness of the civil war and child soldiering problems that are occurring in Burma, and that do, in fact, go largely unreported.

I know, it’s hard to take a movie seriously that would use the song “Bodies (Let the Bodies Hit the Floor)” in the preview, but I assure you, the concepts of the military programming killers that are never deprogrammed, the inescapable horrors of war, and the futility of fighting the evils that men do vs. the indomitable human spirit and the desire to do good are all surprisingly well illustrated throughout the film.

A multicultural group of mercenaries in Burma that, inexplicably, all speak perfect English.

This is not to say that Rambo doesn’t have more than it’s fair share of mindless, dumb fun as well. A sign of a really great action movie is when you have to go to the bathroom like an hour into it (which of course I did thanks to the beers that were so graciously provided at the screening), but you never get a chance to because there isn’t ever a long enough moment of pause to justify leaving. I felt like the movie breezed right by. The mercenary characters, as well as the American missionaries were a little one-dimensional, but served their purpose well enough and acted out there parts to the best of their abilities.

Of course, the extreme level of violence and gore bears mentioning. Modern moviegoers have seen everything, and are difficult to shock… This movie will shock them. Rambo is so gratuitously violent that it will definitely stir up some controversy. Some will say that it’s over the top and cartoonish, while others will argue that it realistically depicts the repercussions of war and violence. That’s the thing about violence and Rambo. Violence is violent. War is gory.  Rambo movies old and new have always tried to excite viewers while also reminding them that this is what really happens in other parts of the world, and it’s not pretty.

Rambo is so tough, he uses live cobras to hold up his pants.

If you’re a Grindhouse/Splatterhouse fan that only wants to see people get their throats ripped out and blasted into red mist by direct machine gun fire, you’ll love Rambo. If you liked movies like “Hotel Rwanda” or “The Thin Red Line” for the way they depicted the demoralizing horrors that occur under the radar of most of civilization during wartime, you’ll love Rambo. Even if you’re just one of those people that just wants to go laugh at Stallone for being old and dressing up like Rambo again like it’s his Halloween costume, you’ll love Rambo. Either way, I can’t imagine that anyone but the most stodgy and difficult-to-please critics (and those that are really offended by blood) will not be able to find something of merit to like about Rambo. It was one of the most fun and nostalgic send-offs I can remember in quite some time. Go see it.

Interview with Stalllone