In the modern age of film, it is often a struggle to find a new concept that sparks enough interest for sequels, prequels, or the infamous remakes. Sometimes the latter are a nuisance, yet sometimes a blessing in disguise. In the case of Rambo: Last Blood, led by legendary Actor/Filmmaker Sylvester Stallone, set for release in theaters on Friday, September 20th through Lionsgate, calling it a blessing is an understatement.
As a successful franchise beginning well over three decades ago with 1982’s First Blood, the latest Rambo marks the fifth and possibly final film of its kind. Directed by Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo 2012), with the screenplay by Matthew Cirulnick (Southbeach series, Absentia series) and Stallone himself, it also marks the first Rambo film in eleven years, the last being 2008’s Rambo which came twenty years after 1988’s Rambo III. These facts in place, the latest chapter starts out mostly where it left off with the 2008 film with ex-Vietnam veteran with PTSD John Rambo (Stallone: Rocky series, Rambo series) trying to settle down to a stationary life on a horse ranch in Arizona.
Here, Rambo is helping to raise a special teen girl who tragically lost her mother many years earlier named Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal: Faking It series, Lowriders 2016) like his own. Eager to locate her birth father, after much searching she tracks him through a friend living in Mexico. Attempting to visit him alone against her caretaker’s wishes, is she looking for trouble, and if so, does good old Rambo have enough left in him to save the day?
Without delving much further into plot, the finale takes place back on John Rambo’s ranch in which some find a likeness to the Home Alone burglar scene with a little bit of a Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom twist, but Rambo: Last Blood is on such a grandiose scale, there really is no comparison. Additionally making it even more badass, The Doors’ “Five To One” is the selected soundtrack for the most action-packed sequence in the finale.
Now, while the idea of Rambo ‘settling down’ may worry Stallone fans given the premise of the film and the fact that he is 73 year old, no need to stress, he is not going all politically correct with his brutality. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The premise in simplistic terms, as is popular in most Rambo films, is that a group of ‘bad men’ capture a ‘damsel in distress’ that Rambo must find a way to save while seeking vengeance. In this case the damsel is Gabrielle, portrayed marvelously by Monreal who gives heartfelt performance in a very difficult role due to its graphic subject matter.
The two bad men, brothers named Victor and Hugo Martinez, are portrayed by Óscar Jaenada (Piratas series, Luis Miguel: The Series) and Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Life Itself, Snowfall series) in a convincingly, brutal matter as leaders of a Mexican cartel. Other noteworthy characters are Gabrielle’s female caretaker Maria (Adriana Barraza: Drag Me To Hell 2009, Thor 2011), and a helpful reporter living in Mexico named Carmen (Paz Vega: The Spirit 2008, Kill The Messenger 2014).
Starting out with innocent intentions, the plot thickens and builds to an insanely entertaining climax that hosts the most creatively brutal deaths a Rambo film has ever seen. Of course if Rambo: Last Blood was released in 1982 most people would not even question it, but merely just appreciate the entertainment factor. However, times have changed and this new story is so connected with a very modern day issue that is bound to draw criticism. After all it is 2019 and a good deal of people are offended by almost everything. That in mind, the film raises awareness and is a brutally charged depiction of serious issues that are resolved in a creative yet blockbuster film sort of way. Although, instead of making more of a light-hearted mockery of murder, as depicted in the John Wick series, Rambo: Last Blood really hits home with a serious undertone… something it is meant to do.
There is no real slowing down for John Rambo in Rambo: Last Blood. This is all despite his aging, making it perhaps the most entertaining of the five films. Complemented by all its technological capabilities, it appeals to those who have never seen a Rambo film as much as those who have religiously followed the series from the start. Like it or not, the bottom line is Action and Thriller flicks are still a huge part of box office success, and despite some inevitable outrage, Rambo: Last Blood may actually rank as the best of the year in these category. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this film 4.5 out of 5 stars.