When I review a movie, I usually will not go into great detail about the plot of the film. I will do a quick rehash though for those who may not have seen the film or may not recollect it. I will first tell you that I have only watched one Rambo movie before this. Yes you read that right, one movie. It was the first Rambo and I was not a huge of it. So I did have a little reservation about seeing this movie.
The basic idea of the story is that Rambo has been living on Thailand since the events of Rambo III. He is a boatman and also helps with the locals with their exhibitions that involve snakes. Christian missionaries show up and need to be ferried into the middle of a war zone between a renegade army and rebels, and ask Rambo to take them. He does and that village is attacked by the rebels, the missionaries taken hostage.
A group of foreign mercenaries are hired and need to be ferried into the war zone to look for the missionaries, and of course they hire Rambo to take them in. When they see the village, the mercenaries have second thoughts. But when Rambo shows up with his bow and arrows in hand, to save innocent locals, he “convinces” the mercenaries to follow him and complete the job.
A lot of gruesome ass kicking happens and Rambo saves the day. At the end of the movie we see him arrive back at the farm he grew up, walking to wards the house down a long drive way. See, I told you I would not go into great detail here but it pretty much sums up the plot of the entire movie.
This is the first movie of the franchise that Sylvester Stallone acted in, wrote and directed. He stated in interviews that he was not originally supposed to direct the film but took ownership of it when the there were conflicts with the director creativiely. The man did a fantastic job. To me, he directed the movie as if it was coming from the eyes of Rambo himself.
ACTING: Of course, Stallone plays Rambo perfectly. I really loved the way that the character had such a “slow burn” towards the moment of when he becomes a killing machine again. Julie Benz was a great fit as Sarah. Her chemistry with Stallone was really good and she played the determined but peaceful woman who is the only one who can reach Rambo. I really loved the character of “Schoolboy,” the sniper from the hired group of mercenaries. He is a very likeable character who you root for from the moment he is introduced. Graham MacTavish plays a real a**hole character named “Lewis,” that you do not really like when he is first shown on camera but you grow to respect him as the film plays out. I was on the fence on Paul Schulze’s character “Michael Burnett” as he was a little preachy (I do not like preachy) but had one great character building moment.
ACTION: This movie has action in spades once it gets ramped up. There is a lot of blood spilled, lots of severed limbs and lots of gruesome kills but it did not really take away from the story at all. I will say that there are times that the CGI used for some of the gore looked a little odd. I do not know if it was that it seemed too cartoony or if it was just not realistic but the majority of the CGI worked well. The fire fights in the movie were intense! I can honestly say that I enjoyed every bit of gun play in this film and that is very odd for me as I am not a big gun fight type of guy.
STORYTELLING: I have to admit that Sly Stallone had perfect pacing for this movie. The story never felt rushed or slow, it didn’t drag at any point either., which I honestly expected at some point. I will also admit that I was surprised by how well Stallone did directing this movie, I was truly surprised. I am sure that a part of it was that he has the best handle on what works for Rambo and it shows. It also helps that he wrote the story for the movie, so he knew how he wanted the story to come across. It worked well. I found myself waiting impatiently for the story to unfold, especially waiting for John Rambo to start kicking a** and taking names.
OVERALL: I loved this movie. This is the first time in my life that I have watched a movie and it has changed my entire view on a film franchise but it has. I have found a greater appreciation for the character and I am very willing to go back and re-watched the first Rambo movie and then watch Rambo II and Rambo III for the first time. I have to admit I ended up watching this movie twice in succession as I enjoyed it that much. It wasn’t perfect but there is not much in life that is.