Stallone’s revisited ‘Rambo’ a bloody mess
| Movie review ½
Cast:Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz
At:Carmike, Commonwealth, Crossings, Short Pump, Southpark, Virginia Center, West Tower
FYI:Running time: 1:23. Rated R (enormous amounts of gore)
Unfortunately, Sylvester Stallone has seen “Saving Private Ryan.”
So when people are killed in his new “Rambo,” they are blown apart in D-Dayesque splashes of blood and viscera, mangled limbs flying in all directions and blood dotting the camera lens.
The whole purpose of “Rambo” is to show the killing, which is a good thing because the rest of it is fairly awful. Those who are turned on by such things will find their hearts pumping to scene after scene of swarthy foreigners being killed in a strange land that hasn’t been called Burma in 19 years.
Stallone is back as his iconic character John Rambo, a G.I. Joe doll with superpowers. At 61, Stallone is back in the shape that makes his arms larger than most people’s thighs, a comic-book physique appropriate for a comic-book character.
At the film’s beginning, Rambo has retired to a life of snake-hunting (and apparently weightlifting) in Northern Thailand. A small group of American missionaries ask him to take them to what is no longer called Burma in his boat, but he refuses, perhaps because their acting is so atrocious. But then the woman in the group asks him pretty please and makes a terrible speech about his responsibility to try to change the world, and he relents.
Rambo takes them up the river and, after a pause to kill a few people, drops them off at their destination. But after an extended massacre, the Americans are taken captive by the army that is no longer Burmese. Though everyone else has been killed, the Americans are kept alive presumably so they can later be rescued by Rambo and some mercenaries.
But first, Rambo has to talk himself into it. As he forges a machete — that’s right, he forges a machete — he says to himself, “You know what you are. You know what you’re made of. War is in your blood. When you get down to it, killing’s as easy as breathing.” The speech goes on a lot longer, but you get the gist. Besides, it’s hard to hear it all over the giggles in the audience.
Stallone’s script, alas, is like that the whole time. It’s dumbed down, even for a Rambo film. The bad guys, for instance, are cartoonishly bad, raping women and shooting children at close range and machine-gunning villages and forcing captives to run through minefields while betting on who will make it through alive and then slaughtering the survivors, anyway.
“If you go against me, I will feed you your intestines,” says the baddest of the bad guys. In an apparent oversight, he is not given a handlebar mustache to twist.
Despite everything, Stallone actually handles his jobs as actor and director well. His character is the only one on the screen to have life (with the exception of Matthew Marsden as a mercenary). And as a director, he proves consistently thoughtful and creative.
But the rest of the movie is a mess, from the overbearing music to the banal story to the leaden characters — and at one point, even the color correction is off.
At least the blood and guts look good. The crew making those were the hardest-working guys on the set.