Rambo(released Jan.25/08)has Mr.Stallone back in his seat as his signature character of John Rambo.With his portrayal here,it doesn't seem as if more than 20 years have passed since the original movies,he is so spot on.Back is the dark,loner whose blackness from within is never too far from the surface.The film is sweeping and sometimes epic in look,and the music score is very reminiscent of the original trio of films.
The story finds John living in Thailand,eking out a living,providing snakes for a small outfit that provides shows for tourists.One day a group of Americans with medical supplies and other stuffs,comes a calling.They ask John to take them up river and into Burma to a small village,which is their ultimate destination.John repeatedly refuses,until one of the group finally wears him down and he relents.Off they go in John's river boat and the first big obstacle they encounter is an encampment of Burmese river pirates along the shore.John revs his engine down and they are almost passed when suddenly one of the pirate boats is in pursuit.Their boat is just too modern and powerful,so John is forced to stop.John tries negotiating with them but when they realize there is a woman on board things go south very quickly.In the end John is forced to shoot everyone of them to save their own lives.
John fulfills his end of the bargain and drops the group off at the village in Burma.On the way back he disposes of the boat and the bodies therein of the pirates he wasted.Back at the village things seem to be going well until it is invaded by government troops who begin a wholesale slaughter of the village's inhabitants and raze it to the ground.The group of Americans are captured and taken to the soldier's encampment.
John is back home and asleep when the pastor from the Church who sponsored the American group,comes to call on him.He tells John the group should have been back 10 days before and has heard they have been taken hostage.The pastor has hired a rag tag group of mercenaries to go rescue the group.John is now hired to take them back to the village so they can get the hostages back.John spends that night forging a new knife and he accompanies the group to the village.Once there he is about to leave with the mercenaries but is told to wait at the boat.The mercs travel inland with a Burmese rebel as their guide and they eventually come upon a group of government soldiers forcing innocent civilians to run through a rice field sprinkled with mines.The civilians make it to one side without mishap but when the soldiers force them to make a return trip,John shows up with bow and arrow in hand and quickly dispatches the entire group of soldiers.From that point on John is part of the rescue team.
They find the encampment and set about trying to free the hostages.The main group of mercs get most of the people,but John is still involved in trying to rescue the girl.When things get a little dicey the mercs fall out with those they have.One,a sniper,remains to assist John.With the girl obtained,the three head away from the camp.Early the next morning the Burmese troops awake to find their hostages gone and some of their guards slain and the hunt is on.The troops in good time find the mercs and have them set for the slaughter.John,the girl and the sniper find them,after having blown their trackers to kingdom come by setting off an old WW2 bomb in the jungle.Just as the mercs are about to die the firing begins.John kills a soldier manning a 50c machine gun and starts into ripping up everything in sight.The mercs are into the fight too and it becomes a real slaughterhouse.It's a pitched battle until a large group of Burmese rebels show up to assist John and the mercs.In a poignant scene,when the dust settles,John is standing,slightly wounded,overlooking the battlefield and its carnage.
The film ends as John returns home for the first time in many a year.He stops at the post box with his fathers name on it.Then he proceeds to walk the long dusty driveway in towards the farmhouse.
From the get go Mr.Stallone makes sure you see the atrocities the Burmese troops commit with actual film and news footage.Then throughout,to reinforce that theme,you get to see recreations of some of the horrible and sick things these government soldiers do to their own people,such as forcing civilians to run through mine fields.He makes sure you're on his side because he does not hold back an inch when it comes to showing the carnage that real bullets do to real bodies.It is not for the squeamish,but Mr.Stallone's set up has steeled you for what is to come and you're on his side all the way.When John takes control of that 50c machine gun in the final battle,it's hard not to be up on your feet encouraging him to go for it.Mr.Stallone has adeptly kept true to the original character,as if time has stood still all these years.Mr.Stallone also makes a wide us of varying camera techniques to put the story over.I particularly liked his,for lack of a better description,prowling tiger mode,if that makes sense.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:40:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras includes deleted scenes and several featurettes which I am looking forward to seeing after I write this review(as always I never let extras influence my reviews).There is a second disc,which is a digital copy.
All in all a terrific return to the character of John Rambo,made famous many,many years ago.He steps into the character like he just finished the last movie a year ago.The film is sweeping and epic in nature,with a great musical score to enhance the proceedings.It is very realistic in nature but has a reason for being so which,dollars to donuts,you will be behind every minute you watch this baby.4 1/2 stars.Highly recommended.