Director: Adrian Grunberg
Writers: Matthew Cirulnick and Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta
Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Stallone) believes he has final found some solace and meaning to life by living on a remote ranch in Arizona and looking after a woman named Maria (Adriana Barraza) and her daughter Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). However, when a vicious Mexican cartel kidnaps Gabrielle, John must embark a personal quest to punish those responsible.
It does seem that some actors just cannot move on from some of the characters that made them famous, but they really should for many reasons, one of which being that they are just way too old to play them!
Sylvester Stallone has tried desperately to cling to two of the ‘iconic’ characters that he has played, and with very varying degrees of success; he has made Rocky Balboa a trainer, and though the films were not perfect, his character was genuinely engaging, and Stallone managed to capture very well the emotional pain of that character with a surprising amount of nuance (not a word I ever thought I would use to describe a character played by Sly Stallone), and he even got himself an Oscar nomination for his troubles. When watching the latest abysmal instalment of his Rambo franchise, the fact that he was able to rejuvenate his character of Rocky Balboa in the Creed films so well only serves as further disappointment in his seeming inability to accept both his own mortality and the fact that the 80s finished 30 years ago.
I am of course aware that this is a Rambo film, so was not exactly expecting Shakespeare, but even by the low standards of this genre, Last Blood really has nothing going for it. In a script that is co-written by Stallone, Last Blood seems to want to be about redemption, atoning for sins of the past and other various over done clichés, but though these clichés can be effective if done well, Stallone seems to forget this and give us the most basic, generic and predictable story that feels like it is from ‘the beginners guide to writing a basic 80s action film’. Though many of us are partial to a little bit of nostalgia, an expressionless Stallone that looks like he is about to keel over while mumbling some inaudible nonsense about the ‘dark soul of humanity’ is just plain boring.
The film’s first third is ‘character development’, middle third a seemingly Donald Trump inspired exploration of how everyone in Mexico is horrible and the final third a very boring 18 rated version of Home Alone. At one point John’s ‘niece’ (well, she refers to him as ‘uncle’) – a walking cliché of a character that is very much at the mercy of the narrative – asks him why he as so many tunnels underneath his farm, and though the answer is basically glurblurgurblurghglurghblugh, it might as well be “I am way too bloody old to do any actual fighting, so these tunnels are purely here is a plot device to enable me to take down the Mexican Jon Snow’s group of much younger and fitter goons with some very elaborate Kevin McCallister-inspired traps.”
Once we (finally) get to the film’s final third we do actually get to see some (CGI) of the supposed ‘blood’ in the title, but even the Home Alone inspired finale is extremely boring and lacks any kind of tension. The entirety of Last Blood is one extremely boring lazy cliché-laden mess of a film, but what takes the biscuit even more is the ‘greatest hits’ compilation that feels like a celebrity big brother ‘best bits’ montage over the closing credits as we get cringe-inducing stills of previous Rambo films that in the end suggests there may be yet another chapter to come – let’s hope not!
A film that seems to have not only forgotten that the 80s happened 30 years ago, but also that its protagonist is incredibly old; Rambo: Last Blood is a truly abysmal load of tosh.