Vietnam War veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) tries to find some semblance of peace by raising horses on a ranch in Arizona. He’s also developed a special familial bond with a woman named Maria (Adriana Barraza) and her teenage granddaughter Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). But when a vicious Mexican cartel kidnaps Gabrielle, Rambo crosses the border on a bloody and personal quest to rescue her and punish those responsible.
When it comes to the Rambo film franchise, I think it is safe to say that the majority of audiences want to see one thing and one thing alone – John Rambo going around and causing a ton of mayhem and killing a lot of people. Although I personally enjoyed First Blood, the film that started the whole series, I wanted there to be just a little bit more action. The story was semi-interesting but it really lacked a sense of grit that I believe should have been there.
The later sequels managed to amp up the violence and carnage but while doing so, they practically threw the story out of the window and the Rambo films just ended up being nothing more than violence. There should be a balance of both in every movie. Tell an interesting and compelling story while also having fun along the way. This is something that the beloved John Wick series does – in the initial entry, John’s wife and dog pass away and he wants to get revenge on those responsible, and the script told a revenge story in a unique and fresh way.
Unfortunately, Adrian Grunberg’s Rambo: Last Blood is a disappointingly bland and generic revenge story that is incredibly predicatable and has nothing new to offer, making it not only a forgettable movie in the series, but one of the most pointless entries in a film franchise that I have seen in quite some time.
One of the only good things about this new installment is Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo. Even in the weak Rambo films, he has always managed to be a genuinely great actor in every movie in the series thus far and his character is always one that you want to see more of. Sadly, in Last Blood, we surprisingly do not spend a whole lot of time with him at all. A large portion of the story focuses on his niece Gabrielle and her story rather than having John Rambo in the picture. It would have been okay if Gabrielle’s story was interesting, but it just wasn’t. As aforementioned, nearly every story beat is almost laughably predictable and it is clear rather quickly what will end up happening later on.
The film clocks in at a total of only eighty minutes, and we spend approximately thirty minutes setting up what will happen to a certain character in order for John Rambo to finally come into the picture. The first act was a drag to get through and before I knew it, the end of the movie was approaching.
Additionally, the main villains in the movie are some of the most cliché villains I have seen in a movie in years. Instead of having an understandable motive, their reason to be evil is simply that – they just want to be evil. They constantly talk about how they want to torture and kill people and it just becomes laughable after a while.
All this being said, the last twenty minutes are what I wanted the entire picture to be. The last twenty minutes are genuinely amazing and I had a blast watching it. It is essentially John Rambo being the Jigsaw killer from the Saw franchise and it is chalked full of blood, guts and gore, and while usually gore in films can be rather pointless, here it made sense and made for some truly exciting sequences.
Rambo: Last Blood is disappointingly bland and lifeless, with an incredibly predictable story, cliché villains, and its action scenes are few and far between.
Overall Grade: C-
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence, grisly images, drug use and language
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Genie Kim, Joaquín Cosío, Oscar Jaenada
Directed by: Adrian Grunberg
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Running Time: 89 minutes