Review: ‘Rambo: Last Blood’: Hopefully the last we’ll see of Rambo

Christopher Kelly, news staff

“Rambo: Last Blood” sees the final return of character John Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone, and marks the utter downfall of the series and the once-great action movie legend. This film is the definition of “cash grab” with its bad pacing, cliched plot and the overall boring execution of a straight-to-DVD action flick. 

The side characters were mostly forgettable to the point where I was unsure what the main antagonists’ names were after the movie ended. While Yvette Monreal’s portrayal as Rambo’s niece, Gabriela, was the driving force of the plot, it’s unclear what her purpose was beyond a plot device to make Rambo kill people again. 

This movie can be summed up as the Rocky V of the Rambo saga. It felt less like “Logan” and more like “Terminator: Genisys” for an early action movie hero who feels like they can phone it in for an hour-and-a-half drag with no real connection to what made the original film popular. 

Alan Ladd as Shane in “Shane,” or even Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in “Logan,” are examples of what this movie was going for in its portrayal of Rambo as the old gunslinger who must once again take up his guns, but it falls short by lacking any of those core story themes. Rambo is still a tank of a human who can take out swarms of enemies at a time, so at no point in this film did it seem that he, who should be in his late 70s by now, was in any real danger. This dehumanizes the character and draws the audience out of any real stake in the plot. Additionally, the sharp turn the movie makes by beginning as a tale of redemption then shifting to revenge is so jarring it feels almost inappropriate. 

From a filmmaking standpoint, the movie paled in comparison to “First Blood,” with a great deal of the shots looking less realistic and more overdone than those of the original Rambo movie that kicked the franchise off in 1982. Ultraviolence in movies is nothing new, but if viewers are watching their hero mercilessly rip into nameless thugs they don’t care about, it loses its weight. While watching the film, I hoped the absolute bore of a setup would mean a large payoff in the final fight, but by the time the bodies actually started dropping in the climax I had already lost interest.

This does not even touch upon the stereotypes depicted in this film, which portrays Mexico as a crime-ridden slum right across the border in a way that seemed forced for the sake of plot. Gabriela was in the city for one night before she was tricked, drugged and kidnapped. It appears the filmmakers made certain assumptions without looking at what the people of Mexico are actually like. 

“First Blood” told an interesting story about a discarded Vietnam veteran being pushed into survival against a vindictive police force. It had genuine heart when discussing how U.S. veterans were treated after returning home to find many Americans despising them. Rambo is a man who’s supposed to be looking for peace after seeing so much war and death, but in this film all he does is seek to murder every member of the Mexican gang who kidnapped his niece. Characters can and should evolve throughout a franchise, but the heart of Rambo has changed so much that by the final chapter, he feels like an entirely different person. When the final credits roll and feature clips from the previous films, the message is clear — anyone who made it through the movie should do themselves a favor and watch its much better predecessors.