"You’re trying to change what is!"
He may deserve more credit for the one man shows that the Rambo and Rocky movies became, but dialogue never was Stallone’s strongest suit. Still, one doesn’t buy a ticket for a Rambo movie in an earnest search for Wildean repartee.
Rather, Rambo is about the mayhem, the one man army taking down a demonised stereotype using minimal technology and a large knife. While the dialogue occasionally infringes upon the violence, there are more than enough bullets flying around to help you forget he’d even put pen to paper.
Rambo is back in Thailand, working on a longboat up the Salween River. Despite living just a few miles from Burma, home of the world’s longest running civil war, he’s long given up the fighting.
Two weeks after reluctantly taking a group of Christian aid workers up river to help them assist the persecuted tribes people, another pastor visits Rambo, this time explaining that the Christians have yet to return from their mission and are most probably being held captive by the Burmese army.
He’s paid for a group of mercenaries to track his friends down, and they need someone to take them up river.
While the plot is something of a retread over the previous sequels, Stallone has this time juxtaposed his tale against the backdrop of a war in which real life atrocities are incomparable to those depicted in the hyperbole of a Rambo movie.
But make no mistake, the violence is extreme; from the opening sequence, depicting a group of soldiers placing bets on which farmer will get blown to bits first in a sick race of ‘dodge the landmine’, right up until the final reel, in which limbs are blown apart by a rather large machine gun.
Initially it’s hard to picture Stallone’s ageing war veteran doing anything other than fish. But a neat sequence in which he reminds us exactly what Rambo is capable of quickly puts any nagging doubts to rest.
Yes, he does require the assistance of some one-dimensional supporting mercenaries, not least Corrie’s Matthew Marsden as a cockney sniper, but it’s Stallone that hogs the screen.
It’s far from a perfect movie, and some will get too caught up in the debate over the use of such a war as the subtext for a popcorn actioner, but Stallone has delivered the movie Rambo fans would have asked for.
No plot twists, no super heroics, just Rambo, a big gun, and lots of body parts exploding. He draws lots of blood, and perhaps not for the last time.