Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rambo 4: Ashman Movie Review

Rambo don't take no mess.

rambo poster

**** 4 stars (Out of 5)

Yes this is a positive review. When I saw the trailer, the interviews, and the fans reactions I would never have dreamed this film would be above 1 star. After several recommendations and discussions I was challenged to re-think this action monster. I am glad I did.

In the era of over bloated and over important war films, Rambo runs a brisk 91 minutes and gets things done.

Stallone
knows how to deliver the goods in this brutal and timely action ride. What starts out as a solid exploration of the further reaches of a 5th world country turns into an all out orgy of violence that is eerily relevant and important to todays society. This might be the most (Dare I say it?) important action film since the first Rambo, aptly titled First Blood. This might be stretching it, but Rambo worth the ride nonetheless.

It is strange to say, but if you are going to rent an action movie and are a fan of the genre, Rambo is the right movie to rent or buy. Stallone makes one of the most PC films of the year while thrashing out gallons of blood and guts for the right cause. While Cheadle and Clooney try to turn heads with Darfur Now, Stallone is breaking them to look at Burma, Myanmar. The bloody action film is actually ahead of the US cause of the month and gives you an awful look at some things that are going down there now. No one is saying this film is fact, but they aren't saying it's far from it either.

Rambo doesn't even feel like the other films in the series. It has the feel of a lean action or exploitation film of the '70's with an economical fast pace. If done at a different time I could see this film easily inspiring Tarantino and Rodriquez for future riffs. In fact, the film has almost a Sin-City, or Hulk feel to it in the semi-real life story extremely heightened with a bruised hero that has to face the fact that he is a killing machine...and if you're gonna kill, why not some of those people committing genocide?

*As a side note, it makes me curious as to how Machete, starring Danny Trejo will turn out.

Not that Rambo wants to unleash holy hell. He is begged to help out and refuses several times. What changes his mind? What always does, a beautiful damsel in distress played by Julie Benz. Hey, if a hot blond came up to me in the further reaches of Thailand asking for some help on a suicide mission, chances are I'd do it too.

julie benz

Rambo possesses the special key in Stallone flicks that work; he is an underdog. He is like the hunchback who just wants to be left alone. And I have to say, with his current physical oddity, that isn't too far off the map here. He looks as muscle heavy as he's ever been, but pushing 63 it looks like it's difficult for him to breathe with all that beef on him. After all his muscle and plastic surgery work, it almost looks like he is wearing a rubber suit. But this works for him in the film. Much like the lovable loser of Rocky & Copland, Rambo knows he's not a charmer, and will never get the girl. One of the films better moments is when the beautiful girl hugs her peacenik boyfriend and Rambo knows that is something that he will never experience. Stallone also pulls off a humorous and strangely gleeful task of making that humanitarian pacifist and utter prick, and the payoff of him doing the most beneficial work of his life when he kills a soldier from the Burmese army against his better judgment.

My only real complaint with this film is that the end sequence death-a-thon gets a little cluttered with the fast paced, gritty editing and shooting style. It's done in that Michael Bay Transformers style where we're so close to the action we don't know what's going on in the story. But does it really matter? Stallone is kicking so much ass I think he breaks a new record.

As the credits roll, I'm reminded this is directed and co-written by Stallone. Remember him? It's a comforting fact that a guy who is mostly known as a punchline in this town who got his name by putting his neck on the line for an indi called Rocky in 1976 still can come through with a solid punch more than 30 years later. Here's hoping he's got one more left in him.

stallone directing


Domestic: $42,754,105 37.8%
+ Foreign: $70,488,548 62.2%
= Worldwide: $113,242,653
(from box office mojo)

rambo figure 2rambo figurerambo 3rambo walking

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