Last year, Sylvester Stallone announced that “Creed II” was going to be his final “Rocky” movie. While he’s already swirling up rumors that he may revive the Italian Stallion, it appears Sly is officially saying farewell to his other long-running, cinematic character.
“Rambo: Last Blood” is the fifth installment in a franchise that began with 1982’s “First Blood”. Since his killing rampage in Burma (2008’s ultra-violent “Rambo”), John Rambo’s been living a peaceful life on a ranch in Arizona with housekeeper Maria and his 17-year-old niece, Gabrielle.
She’s ready to head off to college. But before leaving she desperately wants to know why her father deserted her a decade ago. Uncle John advises Gabrielle not to go to Mexico in search of her father, but she goes anyway. Things quickly go south for the young girl, who is taken by human traffickers. When John finds out, cue the Rambo revival.
At under 90 minutes, “Rambo: Last Blood” is far from thorough or substantive. The script is simple and straightforward. There are only a handful of characters. And the final act is wall-to-wall graphic violence.
But what makes this “Rambo” work at its base level (especially for those who have been with this saga since the ‘80s) is Stallone. He’s able to deliver the goods, both in the quieter, emotional scenes and the action sequences. Long before Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills in the “Taken” series and Denzel Washington’s Robert McCall in “The Equalizer” films, Rambo was cinema’s go-to, highly-skilled, one-man show revenge seeker. In “Last Blood”, Rambo gets to show-off what he does best.
There are no surprises in “Rambo V” (well, except for a few of the extreme ways bad guys are killed. I hadn’t seen that final one before).
Highlights include a montage sequence featuring Rambo preparing all the deadly devices for the final epic battle. It nicely parallels the inspiring training montages in the early “Rocky” films.
And during the end credits we’re treated to a variety of images from all five films in the franchise. It’s a “Rambo Retrospective”!
There’s no doubt John Rambo will be missed by everyone — except those dumb enough to mess with him.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Rambo: Last Blood” gets a B-.
Running Time: 89 min.