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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Rambo (2007)   rating

Review: written 2008

Rambo (2007)

It seems a touch hypocritical to go to a Rambo movie and then complain about it being too violent... but that is how this movie made me feel. It has been 18 years since we last saw Rambo in action - and it was non-stop action then, as he single handedly defeated the entire Russian army in Afghanistan. However, this time there are a few elements missing, that previously had made the franchise palatable.

Firstly - character - not of Rambo - what more could really be said about the character that after all was so well defined in the first and still best movie? Rather, the bad guys - they are here presented in completely anonymous and unexplained fashion - no head to head, no explaining of motives. Just a ruthless one-dimensional character whose only act we see is killing and maiming.

Secondly - secondary characters. Here, there are plenty, but they are all one note ciphers, the mercenaries that come to help out. In the beginning they don't trust our hero, but in the end, he saves them, and they come to realise - oh, excuse me, did I drift off...? No, what is missing is the heart of the movie - Colonel Trautman, played by the late Richard Crenna, was that voice of conscience in the first movies... he is sorely missed here, despite a dream sequence when we hear his voice. His absence leaves the movie sorely lacking that element of heart that is needed to balance the unrelenting violence.

Thirdly - most crucially, restraint. Maybe that is an odd thing to say about Rambo - but even in the worst excesses of Rambo III, the violence was cartoonish... here, we have unremitting gruesome carnage and ripping apart of bodies by bullets, knifes and hands, accompanied along the way by rape and torture. It's just too much, without any discernible moral compass or purpose.

Does anything about the movie work? Well oddly, enough, you can't help but accept and believe in Sly Stallone as Rambo. He's never a 60-something aging actor... he IS just John Rambo. That says something about the iconic nature of the character first written by David Morrell. And speaks volumes for what a waste this movie is for the actor and the character... no wonder this is the first movie Morrell has distanced himself from.

Avoid and rent or buy the original instead... you'll be surprised how good it actually was.





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