No redemption, just ‘Rambo’

Allan Lamb

Courtesy Lionsgate Films

Credit: Ron Soltys


Starring Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze

Directed by Sylvester Stallone

Distributed by Lionsgate

Stater rating (out of five):


In a day and age when filmmakers feel like they have something important to say and lace little didactic caveats into their movies, Rambo is Sylvester Stallone’s cold dead stare of disgust at their pathetic attempts.

The movie begins with Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Stallone) capturing pythons and cobras with his bare hands for snake-fighting tournaments. When he returns successful from the hunt, he is approached by a group of Christian missionaries who want him to take them in his boat upriver to Myanmar, where the Karen people are being killed off by the oppressive Burmese government, to give medical attention to the sick and wounded. Rambo tells them they can’t change anything and to go home.

But the Christians are persistent and Rambo gives in, offering to turn the boat around if they change their minds. Even after the boat is attacked by Burmese soldiers, whom Rambo kills single-handedly, they wish to continue with their mission and even rebuke Rambo for killing the attackers. Once Rambo leaves them at the mercy of the region’s civil war, they learn that their peaceful attitudes are no match for the ruthless army, and they are taken hostage after the village is slaughtered like cattle.

At first one cannot tell whether it was Rambo’s last drop of goodness or his blood-thirsty, ass-kicking nature that brings him back along with a motley crew of other soldiers to save them. However, after taking out a forest with a Claymore antipersonnel mine and an entire army with a mounted machine gun, the answer becomes quite clear.

From beginning to end, Stallone wastes no time with contrived dialogue or pointless subplots, romantic or otherwise. There’s the setup, the action, the end. The only dialogue between setup and action is the missionaries preaching peace to Rambo and Rambo pointing out their naiveté. One can guess by the film’s title who is proven right. Rambo is a pure action film, and a damn good one at that, nothing else. Minus the 20 minutes of plot setup, the film is bloodbath after bloodbath, including slaughter of both innocents and depraved soldiers.

Rambo manages to keep with all of the traditions of the series, including the headband, the bow and arrow, the knife and no-mercy, survival-of-the-fittest battle in the jungle.

OK, maybe there is a little redemption in the end, but the point is driven home without being rubbed in viewers’ faces.

Contact all editor Allan Lamb at [email protected].