With more blood, more violence, and a valiant attempt at providing a bigger heart – Rambo: Last Blood is the genre’s attempt at providing a last-hurrah for the character. Directed by Adrian Grunberg and starring Sylvester Stallone as the titular action-hero Rambo. It continues the story of John Rambo, an aged warrior who faces what could be his last battle.
In this violent outing you see John Rambo play out the aged warrior trope; one that has gained enormous traction since its modern popularization in films such as Logan (2017) – so yes, you see your typical aged, grizzled, and detached warrior. John Rambo spends his days shut away, suffering from vivid PTSD episodes, and attempting to occupy himself with the pseudo-family that he has built. In this outing, it’s hard to ignore the vast similarities this film shares with a host of other films – it’s clear that Stallone is drawing inspiration from his recent role as Rocky in Creed (2015), applying a somewhat broken demeanor to a character that once had strength. Additionally the story shares strong similarities to films like Taken (2008) and Skyfall (2012) — but unfortunately not housing the same qualities that made those films good.
Rambo: Last Blood, if anything, feels a little overwhelmed – there’s a sense that Stallone and the writers didn’t quite know which direction they want the character to go, or to end – in the process it perhaps loses sight a little of who Rambo really is and what his character is ultimately meant to be. It’s strange to watch this film set up a seemingly promising character through his adopted daughter (Yvette Monreal) – this franchise is simply begging to set up a new Rambo series of films and every opportune moment it had to do that is pushed aside.
While this certainly is not Sylvester Stallone’s most endearing performance, he did provide a potent physical presence on-screen. Stallone clearly prepared for this role and even provides a moment or two of emotionality – but this pales in comparison to the emotional output seen in Creed (2015). The supporting roles follow-suit with the rest of the films aspects, a resounding “meh” is precisely the way to describe it. But naturally, this isn’t a film constructed for its supporting roles, it’s about Rambo, so therefore the majority on critique rests on that characters shoulders.
This film felt like it was done on a low budget all-around – from its adequate blood and gore, to its fuzzy CGI, and obvious green-screens. The adequacy of its CGI doesn’t detract from the energetic and genuinely entertaining violence provided on-screen – but more detailed violence could’ve gone a long way. There are some strong aerial shots and the lighting does provide nice differentiation between its America and Mexico settings – there are moments where characters move into shadow with its low-key lighting to provide more sinister intentions, these are at least noticeable efforts.
Director Adrian Grunberg and Stallone unfortunately haven’t hit their targets in this grungy outing of the franchise. Rambo may have had the starpower and skill to solo his way to the box office in the past, but in an age of wrapped-up franchises, never-ending remakes, and countless “old cowboys last ride” type films Rambo: Last Blood is outnumbered and outgunned. With more violence than adequate lines of script, it simply lacks the emotional heft to justify a last rodeo of an aged and nearly forgotten character.