Around 37 years after the misunderstood Green Beret veteran, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), drew the first blood and then wreaked havoc in foreign lands, the iconic action hero still stands firm. We have seen him grows wearier and much less bulky than he had been during the prime era; but, Rambo is still the icon of cinematic escapism. Stallone has somehow done an Unforgiven deed to the titular character in Rambo (2008), but who knows that machismo never really ages, hence Last Bood—a crowd-pleasing entry for long-time fans.
The closure in Rambo (2008), as it turns out, is temporal. Rambo settles down in a ranch with an orphaned young girl, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), and her abuelita. The action hero spends his old age taming horses or going for some horseback riding talking about his wasted youth and how the burden he carries for killing people. It is surprising that, in a sequel of an iconic action franchise, Last Blood utilizes a prolonged dramatic setback—connecting Rambo with Gabrielle. It wasn’t until the young girl flees across the border to Mexico that the desired, blatant action kicks in. Amongst all, the movie, which is projected as the character’s final tenure, hitch-hikes the vehicle of revenge-thriller in order to eventually arrive at the action galore.
The road might be long and winding, but the outcome is crystal clear. Rambo: Last Blood works purely as an action bravado, even when it often resorts to geri-action vehicles. Stallone is way past his peak physical prowess and the stunt is less believable than what he used to do; but, he knows exactly what to do as Rambo. His survival skills are impeccable even when his ‘fortis Fortuna adiuvat’ credo has slightly shifted to ‘amat victoria curam.’ Rambo will hack, explode or shoot people point-blank with no remorse in his eyes. No matter how many times he keeps advising Gabrielle about the bad choices he has committed, Last Blood ironically shows us that this man is only comfortable around deaths.
The movie’s third-act delivers its premise excessively; picture the fourth Rambo movie’s level of violence ahead. Before that, there is one point where Rambo seems to be off his character when he storms off the Mexican crimelord’s lair unprepared; but, that somehow is intentional—showing some late character growth in the titular character. What follows are appropriately Rambo-esque: wreaking havoc in the enemy’s lair, violently luring them to his ‘fortress’ and slaughtering them with a series of highly-stylized guerilla deaths. For as long as you can stomach the level of violence and the gore, Last Blood deserves your attention with its penchant to overkill.
Aside from First Blood, Rambo as a character has outgrown the movie series. Furthermore, Stallone has owned the character in every possible way. At some points, the level of exploitation in Last Blood might seem outdated for the modern audiences, but Rambo is an embodiment of baby-boomers’ insecurity and it better stays that way. This is a celebration of escapism and you should focus on escaping the real world to Rambo’s ultra-violent way. Last Blood is bad; Last Blood is good. It might look as if it tries to humanize the titular character, but, when Rambo has passed it, he delivers what he does best.
It might sound exaggerating if what Stallone does in Last Blood reminds us of what Eastwood did to his typical character in Unforgiven, but the whole narrative, albeit simpler, shares some code. Rambo might not find a second chance like Rocky Balboa in Creed series, but we might believe that Last Blood Part II is highly likely.