John Rambo returns to rescue and avenge somebody he likes from a sex trafficking ring.
If you come to Rambo movies for anything but fun violence, you haven't seen the last few Rambo movies. After the genuine pathos of First Blood, a story about a Vietnam veteran with PTSD escaping corrupt law enforcement, the series went to hell pretty fast. Sure, the next three installments are watchable in the same way that popcorn is edible. You can't live off them, but they are enjoyable. This time around, Rambo has found some peace until a girl he helped raise is kidnapped south of the border. Rambo then kills most of the people we see on screen in the random tunnels he has dug under his horse ranch. It's like Home Alone but with a Jason Vorhees twist. Come to think of it, in the Friday the 13th remake Jason had some tunnels of his own. Even that was a better narrative than this film, however.
This movie committed the cardinal sin of movie making: it's boring.
Here's my notes and some explanations:
Rambo's ranch is always lovingly shot with wide sweeping cameras, given more love than Superman's boyhood home when he comes in for a landing.
Cowboy Rambo with Tunnel Rat action
He's on a horse; he's digging tunnels: this Rambo action figure playset comes with everything!
Civilized fast, party time
Ten years ago, we saw Rambo come home from Burma. In that time, he's helped raise a beautiful girl and dig a shit load of tunnels. Both of these things come together when Gabrielle brings some friends over, and they get crunk in Rambo's PTSD playground with the 'Nam vet's blessing.
Gone to Mexico for father
What reason can we have for Gabrielle to go to Mexico to get kidnapped? Spring break partying? Saving little kids by digging wells? Extreme taco run? Nope, she's got a deadbeat dad who beat her mom and left. A random friend found the shitheel, so she's off to find out why pieces of shit who leave are pieces of shit. This is the single stupidest thing a character has ever done in a Rambo movie that did not involve kidnapping Rambo's kin and letting Rambo live.
Actually found Dad/ Friend cool?
Gabrielle makes her way to Mexico after promising not to, and everyone in the theater said, "She's kidnapped." Like we were doing some kind of choral speaking. She goes to her friend's house, who we have been told by Rambo and not-Rambo's sister is not a good person. The friend then takes Gabrielle to her dad who is actually her dad. Whew, I thought we were gonna get right to the racial stereotypes.
Shazam level parenting
I don't know if there's much crossover between the movies of Shazam and Rambo, but both movies released this year had the most brutal parental reunion scenes this year. Just like in Billy's case, Gabrielle's dad tells her point blank "I never wanted you" and closes the door on her face. Then her bad friend leads her to being kidnapped.
To hell with pills
Holy Rambo, Gabrielle didn't come home from not going to her friend's house like she said. Rambo's going to Mexico to find her, along the way deciding to toss away the pills that make him care about not turning people into goo. What are the pills? Magic PTSD-away drugs, I guess, because he's set to instant kill mode.
Okay, not exactly "instant kill mode." First Rambo has what's called "enhanced interrogation" mode, AKA cut a dude and pull out his collar bone until the motherfucker snaps and he tells you where they take the little girls they drug and rape.
Never leave people alive, Victor Hugo
Okay, here's where we talk about the villains of the piece. Much like in Taken with Liam Neesons, these kidnappers don't care a flip about anything but doing the job. Like my grandma used to say, when you love kidnapping, drugging, and raping women, you'll never have to work a day in your life. Can we even comment on the dumb idea of these people? Are they stand-ins for the worst of what Republicans think live in Mexico? Why the fuck are they named Victor and Hugo? Was Stallone watching Disney's Hunchback and thought, "That guy's got two names!" I would say these characters are born of a racist, jingoistic idea of Mexico, but that would require thought on the part of the screenwriter to make them characters and not flavorless blood-filled trash bags created to give Stallone something to work out his Home Alone fantasies on.
Rambo asking for help
For the first time in the franchise that I noticed, Rambo has to ask for help navigating Mexico. Luckily, there's a figment of a journalist who had her sister stolen blah blah blah. This character is barely in the movie and solves a minuscule roadblock. Then she's gone.
Old boy found her
Rambo comes rolling into the brothel where Gabrielle is being held and goes to town on some dudes with a hammer. It's brutal, effective, and kinda boring when he actually finds her.
She's fucking dead
They drive out of the Mexican town. All should be well and then, Gabrielle dies. Part of me wants to applaud the balls of killing her, but then it's just motivation for Rambo to cut loose. At this point I miss Jack Reacher, not quite the Tom Cruise version, but the roaming bad ass who helps people not because of some moral outrage but because he can.
Why not me
Ah the cry to the Lord every parent gives in a silly movie when a young person dies. Why, Lord, didn't you take me who can use a sock to murder everyone in a room? Why take the dumbass who wandered into a Republican hell to confront her deadbeat dad when everyone told her not to? Why do things like this happen in Trump's America?!
Yeah, there's a few shots of the border security. In this case, it's a barbwire fence Rambo drives right over cause he's got some burying to do.
You can't just bury people
Pretty sure you can't just dig a hole and plant a dead girl. Like, even if there's family members buried nearby. have to get a license or something for that. Fairly sure.
Home alone - waits?
Into the Rambo cave! Just all the barbwire and nails you can mush into a human being crammed into those tunnels waiting. Plus, where can you even find land mines?
Revenge speech, eh
I honestly fell asleep or got distracted by a weird hair on my arm or something when Rambo started monologuing. Stallone's weird growl thing just fails.
Head on Highway
To start this little war, Rambo goes down and finds the weird son of a bitch who hurt his Gabrielle (still not sure what she is to him, she calls him Uncle, but I'm sure they aren't related). He finds the guy, cuts off his head, and then rides home with it for a while until he can toss it out the window on the highway. At this point, I'm pretty sure he drives back to the barbwire fence because they don't let you just drive back through a checkpoint covered in decapitation blood.
Then the last quarter or so of the film is just tunnels and death. Sometimes Rambo gets a little too into it, shooting bodies without heads, but I get it. You have to be sure.
Rips out heart
Speaking of overkill: He cuts out a dude's heart and shows it to him. Symbolism.
Rocking in chair to montage
Then, shot and beaten and bloody, Rambo goes to his porch rocking chair and relaxes. We get a montage of all the previous movies. All the hiding and hunting, the 'splosions. Thinking back on that life, all the Jack Reacher novels he probably read, Rambo stands up and saddles a horse. Then he's off, hopefully to never come back again.