Death Never Looked So Beautiful!

Movie title: Rambo (2008)
Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars) (Recommended!)
Rated: R
Summation: Rambo is sought out by missionaries who seek passage in a war-torn country.
Spoilers ahead: No


I remember a time not long ago when John Rambo was a status symbol of the 1980s. Rambo was as “bad boy” as you could get. Sadly, it was the spirit of Rocky, not Rambo, which lived on to steal a lot of hearts. Well, that shouldn’t have been. The way I see it, Rocky has no problem sharing his spotlight with Rambo, my knife-wielding hero who can eat what would make a goat puke. Even the cartoon that had a shot of him fastening that memorable red bandana on his head just before the action started was to be revered. Piss off God before you piss off Rambo—he’ll have mercy, but Rambo won’t!

The Rambo era is gone, unfortunately, along with the simplicity it carried. The days of Rambo were the days of the first Nintendo when the focus of so many videogames was to save the princess or accept the top-secret mission of the general who brought you your assignment. Lucky for you, you were the only one he could find to complete the task. You must succeed! Go!

That's the sort of simplicity I'm talking about. In those days, action movies were just action movies. A good action film didn't need a decorated storyline, just a pervasive premise that made sense. Times have since changed. Those old worn-thin storylines – together with their cackling, wicked crime bosses and their cheesy haircuts and plans for world domination – have served their time. We're ready for something new.

Something new is not what you get in Rambo. In a decade cursed with lagging creativity and rapidly-paced, half-witted remakes of the classics, the new Rambo installment succeeds in giving us just what we saw when Firebird Trans Ams and Fox-body 5.0 Mustangs combed the streets. Hey, I’m game for more!

An introverted Rambo is living and working in Thailand, capturing snakes for entertainers. His simple and secluded life coasts along in a part of the world that most of us would shy away from until Christian missionaries contact him who seek to rent his boat. They need the boat for passage into the war-torn area of Burma where they seek to help by offering humanitarian efforts. He refuses, like any good, burnt-out atheist would and should do.

Stupid Christians! They have no idea the kind of horrors life can throw at you, much less those of Burma, but Rambo does. The harrowing ordeals he’s seen are unmatched. Now, if only he can convince them to turn their bible-thumping behinds around and leave! But he can’t.

Reluctantly, he gives in because of the influences of one Sarah Miller (Julie Benz) and Michael Burnett (Paul Schultz, 24’s “Ryan Chappelle”). This, as you might imagine, leads the sheepishly Jesus-like believers right into the expectedly hellish war-zone of Burma. When captivity comes their way, they realize they got a little more than they bargained for. This leads to Rambo unleashing the tumultuous fury he's so known and loved for unleashing…you know, the kind of fury that Jesus won’t bring when his believers need him the most?

Put no stock in the story. It's just an excuse to get to the action anyway, but we're talking “tons” of action, bloodshed, decapitation, impalement, and enough shell-casings left on the ground to cause a grown man to trip and die. And I must tell you, death never looked so beautiful and inconsequential! But if you truly want to get into the spirit of Rambo, order a pizza and then watch this reddened Rambo. Ask for extra sauce when ordering! If you squint just right, the garlic dipping sauce with your crazy bread will resemble the eye goop from an exploded body. Enjoy!

Inordinately strenuous focus on a barbarous and violent plot is forgivable, and so are the untapped components of the story that are only vaguely touched on. But of course, when we sit down to watch Rambo, what the hell else are we looking for but carnage and vengeance? I found it refreshing, if not compelling, and for sure entertaining. John Rambo is like the older brother I never had. I haven't seen him in years, and when I finally get to, he hasn't changed a bit.



Director: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone “John Rambo,” Julie Benz “Sarah,” Paul Schulze “Michael Burnett,” Matthew Marsden “School Boy,” Graham McTavish “Lewis,” Reynaldo Gallegos “Diaz,” Jake La Botz “Reese,” Tim Kang “En-Joo,” Maung Maung Khin “Tint”
Genre: Action / Thriller