Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Rambo

Outside the border of civil war torn Burma, a group of missionaries are trying to contract a mysterious snake trapper to take them up the river and into Burma where they can hope to administer aid to innocent Burmese caught within the conflict. The snake trapper is former super soldier John Rambo, now doing what he can to escape his former life, and he first tells the missionaries that he won’t do the job, but eventually he’s persuaded to do so, and manages to get them to where they want to go, where they start to give their help. The village that they’re helping falls under the prey of a Burmese warlord and soon all of the missionaries are taken prisoner. Having failed to return, a representative of the missionaries’ church, come to Rambo and tells him what they think has happened and he persuades Rambo to take a group of mercenaries to the village to rescue the prisoners and soon, John Rambo realizes that he can’t escape his former life…

And that’s the premise of Rambo the fourth film in the series, and Sylvester Stallone’s second return to a signature character within the last year, the last film being last year’s Rocky Balboa. And much like Rocky Balboa, with Rambo, Stallone still proves that he has the chops, delivering a fast-paced, very violent and extremely gritty adventure that at least in my eyes, epitomizes the “guy film” and in the good ways.

It’s a good-looking film with a very raw and gritty feel to it, totally adding to the violence of the piece. Just as he did with Rocky Balboa, Stallone proves that he has the best understanding of his signature characters and he wastes little time getting to the heart of them. There’s a few subtle messages here, nothing overtly political by any means, but stuff worth pondering a bit after the film. One of the things that I give Stallone a lot of credit for as well, is going out of his way to share the camera with the rest of his cast. Yeah, sure, Rambo is the big hero here, but all of the actors playing the mercenaries get their time to shine as do the actors playing the lea missionaries.

Now Stallone won’t win any awards for this performance, but he gets the job done and I think he does it well, coming through with a very brisk, action-packed matinee sort of movie. He’s still in fantastic shape and while he doesn’t show off his physique he same way he did in the prior films, he doesn’t really need to, just his presence alone is the force enough needed to drive the film. The rest of his cast does a great job here filling out their parts, and in particular I was impressed with the other actors playing the mercenaries. Again, don’t expect this to be Oscar-calibre stuff, but for the type of film that’s here, they do the jobs well.

I thought it was a lot of fun, and much like he did with Rocky Balboa, Stallone provides a point of closure for John Rambo. I think it’s very cool that he’s bucked the odds with his last two movies and has come through and delivered some very solid entertainment. Rambo is a lot of fun taken at face value, and if you’re a fan of the character or of Sylvester Stallone’s, well I can’t recommend it enough… good stuff here…

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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