Saturday, January 26, 2013

This Month in... 2008: "Rambo (2008)"

As January comes to a close,
Rambo punches a dude's head off!
    After nearly 20 years, Sylvester Stallone has brought back Rambo for one last slaughter... I mean rescue! Directed by Sly himself and written by Sylvester Stallone (Rambo), the fourth and supposedly NOT final installment in the series was released on January 25, 2008. The film followed Rambo (Sylvester Stallone, First Blood), who had been quietly living in the Burmese jungle for several years, as he was coxed out of "retirement" by a group of relgious missionaries who want to help the oppressed Burmese people. Among these missionaries are Michael (Paul Schulze, Nurse Jackie) and Sarah (Julie Benz, Dexter), who convince Rambo to help. However, after the missionaries are kidnapped, Rambo teams up with a group of mercanaries, including the young Schoolboy (Matthew Marsden, Atlas Shrugged: Part I), the arrogant Lewis (Graham McTavish, The Hobbit) and the quiet En-Joo (Tim Kang, The Mentalist), in order to rescue the missionaries. Any questions?
A Story? In a Rambo Movie?
    I have to say this is an example of the reputation preceeding the character. I had never seen a Rambo movie before this one and I was expecting not-stop action with a basic story holding it all together. After all, that what everybody had told me a Rambo movie was like, However, what we got was a little different bit different. Rambo has a surprisingly well-thoughtout story. It's not a great story by any means, but it does do somethings completely differently than most action films. A big part of the film deals with the fact that the missionaries message of peace and spirituality to help the people fails and Rambo is forced to step in with big guns and bloody violence to save the day. It's refreshing to see a film so flat out say that somethings violence IS the answer. However, from a script standpoint, Rambo isn't all that new or interesting enough to back up it's interesting moral stance.
Pictured: Not Rambos.
Bloody Action? What Did You Expect?
    Rambo is a very bloody film. But classic gory. There aren't any detail depictions of limbs getting torn off. In Rambo, when a person gets shot, it tends to look like a ketchup bottle exploded. I have seen my fair share of excessive violence, and yet, for some reason the violence in Rambo was a bit much. I expected it and wasn't surprised by it, but I didn't enjoy it. And I think that's a big flaw with this movie. Even though the bad guys definately deserved it, the bloody violence matches the dark and gritty tone of the film, but I didn't excactly feel right cheering on Rambo as he decapitated another soldier. I don't know. Maybe the grittiess was too much for me. Maybe the repetitiveness of the violence bored me. Maybe I've been seeing to many My Little Pony T-shirts. I just didn't enjoy the action in this movie.
Killer Surprise
    Another surprising thing about Rambo is how it treats it's supporting cast. Of mercanaries. The missionaries are only there to learn that violence is sometimes a nessessary evil and the bad guys are never really expaned on more than "Evil! Kill!", but the mercanaries are a little different. I expected Rambo to be the lone wolf. So good that the mercs only got in his way and they learned how to be good because of Rambo. However, that's not the case. The mercs are actually protrayed as very skilled and good at what they to. Never as good as Rambo, but they are always there when Rambo need thems and they all have the nessessary skills to back Rambo up. Even the Burmese rebels turn out to be a major help. A small detail, but still pretty cool.
"Ever get the feeling you're being watched intently
by Slyvester Stallone?"
The Verdict
    For a 20 year gap between films and an aging star, Rambo isn't all that bad a film. The film is directed well by Stallone himself, who makes the film look surprisingly nice for a gritty war film. The story contains an honestly interesting message, the mercanaries are actually competant compared to Rambo and the film is never dull. However the story isn't all that original, the action scenes aren't great and the film feels a tad bit rushed. Overall, Rambo's back and he's probably been better. Rambo (2008) gets 4 stars out of 6. That's it for January 2008. Next month, This Month In... time travels back. Way back. Way, way, way, back. That's right, we're going to February 2010! And you'd better bundle up, because it's downright freezing out there!

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