Operating less as a Rambo movie and more a generic actioner molded in a similar manner to Liam Neeson’s surprisingly fruitful Taken, Last Blood is far from the operatic swan song a character of this ilk deserves.
There’s an unfortunate irony here that Sylvester Stallone’s once high-and-mighty John Rambo has been subjected to headlining a low-rent title such as this, one that essentially copies the action movies that followed in Rambo‘s steps.
In the 11 years since Rambo shed blood in Burma, he’s quieted down considerably and returned to his father’s horse farm in Arizona. He’s also found himself a surrogate family of sorts, with his father’s long-time farmhand Maria (Adriana Barrraza) and his niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) helping him stay grounded.
Though it’s evident young Gabrielle has a sturdy head on her shoulders, she just can’t quite stay out of trouble when she defies the wishes of both John and Maria and tails it to Mexico in a bid to reunite with the father she never knew.
Gratuitous action films tend to not paint Mexico in the grandest light, and almost as if they want to irk 2019 audiences by harking back to a cinematic period when racism and misogyny ran rampant without consequence, Last Blood‘s screenwriters (Stallone included) opt to introduce a drug cartel specialising in sex trafficking as Rambo’s ultimate adversaries when poor Gabrielle is kidnapped and forced into trade.
The film can then be basically summed up as “ageing white guy slays evil Mexicans” as Rambo booby-traps his house in a manner that would make both the serial killer from Saw and Home Alone‘s Kevin McCallister proud when he makes it known that those responsible for his niece’s decline will pay with their blood.
Even at 89 minutes there doesn’t feel like much of a movie here, and a subplot involving a concerned-looking Paz Vega as a journalist covering the cartel is so very obviously filler material to plump up the story beyond its violent simplicities; even the final credits (which contribute to the overall running time) do their best with a franchise “highlight” reel that sadly reminds us of better Rambo offerings.
If you’re merely after the imagery of Stallone offing bad guys in an assortment of appropriately R-rated ways, then you may be satisfied with where Last Blood decides to culminate; note to self, if Rambo threatens ripping your heart out, best believe he’ll follow through. But, overall, as a last offering (we assume) of this character’s blood, sweat and tears (all of which are displayed here in some fashion), Adrian Grunberg’s misguided and oft-undistinguished feature never reaches the heights of its predecessors, nor the action knock-offs it has inspired. Rest now John Rambo, we’ve all had enough.
About Rambo: Last Blood
Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. A deadly journey of vengeance, RAMBO: LAST BLOOD marks the last chapter of the legendary series.
Rambo: Last Blood (R18+) is screening in Australian theatres from September 19th 2019.