Rambo: Last Blood, directed by Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo), is the newest and supposedly final entry in the series starring Sylvester Stallone as the toughened Vietnam vet who can’t seem to catch a break. Although the series has never been known for its exceptional quality, Last Blood takes it to a new low with a story that simply isn’t interesting.
The film follows Stallone’s Rambo as he sets out on a quest to rescue the granddaughter of an old friend from a ruthless cartel of sex traffickers in Mexico. Fans of the series may be left scratching their heads wondering why Rambo, who was depicted as a loner in previous entries, is now being shown as a loving figure to someone who calls him “Uncle John”. It seems out-of-place within the context of the series and just doesn’t work.
Another thing that sets this movie apart from previous entries is that it is much less action-packed than the rest of the series. The last twenty minutes of the film are legitimately fun (albeit extremely rushed), but the first hour is straightforward, generic, and dull. For the most part, the movie barely even feels like it is in the Rambo series. Any stock character could be put in Rambo’s place and the film would have been nearly if not exactly the same.
The arc that Rambo has in the movie is very by-the-book and doesn’t align with other entries in the series. Whereas other entries were about Rambo coping with his PTSD, this film is more of a revenge thriller, and that doesn’t really suit the character. The supporting characters are equally thin, especially the antagonists, who are xenophobic caricatures of Mexican cartel members.
However, perhaps the chief problem with this movie is that Sylvester Stallone isn’t a great actor. Granted, he’s given some very good performances (Rocky, Creed), and he’s fun to watch as an action star, but his ability to deliver dialogue is limited. One would think that Rambo: Last Blood would be a great fit for his talents, but since there is so little action, the film has to fall back on his dialogue skills for most of the runtime and falters as a result.
Only in the last twenty minutes does the movie reach the levels of carnage that fans would expect from the series, and by then, it is too little too late. Many of the best moments in the action are shown in the trailers, and those that weren’t shown in the trailers are frequently laughable. One can’t help but wonder where the film’s fifty million dollar budget went if the practical effects look so bad.
On a technical level, the movie is ridiculously messy. The only part of the film that is truly impressive is the production design. The sets of Rambo’s tunnel system underneath his ranch are cool and a great backdrop for the action. However, the cinematography and editing are so chaotic that it becomes hard to immerse oneself in what is happening on screen.
Although longtime fans of the franchise may find something to love in Rambo: Last Blood, it is perhaps the weakest entry in a series that was never great anyway. Hopefully the title is correct in saying that this will be the last time we have to suffer with Rambo.
Rambo: Last Blood is now playing in theaters.