‘Rambo: Last Blood’ is a poor sendoff for iconic character

This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo in a scene from "Rambo: Last Blood." (Yana Blajeva/Lionsgate via AP)

Starting from humble beginnings, John Rambo showed restraint, despite his traumatic past. But as the films progressed, the maturity regressed. “Rambo: Last Blood” is (hopefully) the last adventure we see of the guerrilla-warfare master. Packed with superfluous graphic violence and weak writing, this is not the sendoff the icon deserves.

After settling down for a decade, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) lives peacefully with his long time friend and her granddaughter Gabrielle. When Gabrielle goes looking for her estranged father in Mexico and is captured by a cartel, Rambo must go to extreme lengths to bring her back home.

While “First Blood” was original in every sense by telling a contained story, this film has a very hard time without borrowing from others. A scene in the middle is awfully familiar of De Niro rescuing Jodi Foster in “Taxi Driver” and the last 30 minutes become a hard R-rated “Home Alone.” In other words, Rambo’s home becomes a booby-trap infested danger zone for the cartel. At times when the film is original, the weak writing shows; it’s certainly a good thing that there plenty of action to go around.

That pervasive action is extremely graphic but also entertaining. In particular, that last aforementioned section is a guilty pleasure montage of horrific violent acts — many will be turning their head away. The film even goes too far at times, with unimaginable acts (two in particular) that the faint of heart will certainly not be able to swallow. The film was being gratuitous for the sake of gratuity. After seeing the horrors performed in this film, it’s funny to think that in Rambo’s first film he inadvertently caused a single death, but now he’s killed more than he can count.

Aside from one or two well-crafted non-action scenes, the rest are technically flawed. Stallone gives the only competent performance, but still does not display his acting ability. Any scenes with exposition come across as awkward thanks to inauthentic dialogue. However, the clunky writing of the revenge story structure by far shows the most. Subplots are forgotten, characters are randomly tossed around, and the film wraps up as quickly as the snap of a finger. That’s not too much of an exaggeration either; the time between the climax and ending is less than a minute – it’s that rushed.

“Rambo: Last Blood” falls near the bottom of the series, not standing out in any manner. But to hardcore action fans, it will certainly be a fun time. For those not fully convinced (like myself), a cheap nostalgic supercut of all of Rambo’s most iconic moments plays in the background of the credits to remind the audience how much the action-hero has been through. It was like the film was trying to make you feel guilty if you disliked it.

So in hindsight, I guess it wasn’t that bad — no more blood needs to be spilled though.