“Rambo: Last Blood” stars Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Joaquín Cosío, and Oscar Jaenada. Released on September 20, 2019, the film has John Rambo traveling to Mexico to rescue his niece from the Mexican cartel.
The film is directed by Adrian Grunberg, who also directed “Get the Gringo”, and it is the fifth installment in the “Rambo” franchise. Even in retirement, trouble always comes around to bother the heck out of this guy. In 1982, Sylvester Stallone gave birth to one of his most iconic action characters ever to be put on the big screen, John Rambo. Rambo is a U.S. Army veteran with a traumatic past who uses his skills to fight back against police, enemy troops, and drug cartels. The most important thing about this character is that he doesn’t hold back on his kills. The successful release of “First Blood” spawned a franchise that consists of sequels, video games, and an animated television series based on the character that exists for some reason. After more than a decade since Rambo’s last violent adventure, Stallone is bringing the character out of retirement for at least one more round (or a couple more rounds depending on how it does at the box office). This might come as a shock to you readers, but I haven’t watched that much of the Rambo films while I was growing up. I remembered watching the fourth “Rambo” film a while back, but the first three films? Nope. Didn’t find the right time to watch them. So this latest action sequel will be my second experience of seeing a Rambo film. Based on my knowledge of the franchise, it looked like it has pretty much everything that might impress Rambo fans and action fans alike, but will it impress newcomers as well?
The story once again follows John Rambo (Stallone), a war veteran who is now retired at a ranch, but is still haunted by his brutal past. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been killing people for more than 30 years. He also has to deal with his niece Gabrielle (Monreal), a college student who goes to Mexico to visit her estranged father. When she gets kidnapped by the Mexican cartel, Rambo must spring into action yet again to rescue her and give the cartel a piece of his mind. Yep, as usual, the story involves Rambo rescuing someone from a bunch of sick people…again. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, am I right? Whether you're familiar with the franchise or not, you can already tell that this film earned an R-rating for a reason, and that reason is the violence. The “Rambo” films have been known for showcasing gruesome acts of violence, such as people getting shot at, people getting stabbed, people getting blown up, and people’s heads getting cut off. Lucky for the fans, “Last Blood” continues this bloody trend for better or for worse. However, it didn’t shy away from telling a story despite its gritty appearance. Much like its predecessors, “Last Blood” isn’t meant to be a serious Oscar contender when it comes to the plot. It had some familiar elements from the other action films and a screenplay that didn’t take full advantage of its concept, but it also had plenty of tolerable moments that helped the film deliver a passable, yet flawed, continuation of Stallone’s action-packed franchise, such as Stallone’s worthy portrayal of the title character. Stallone has been playing this character for more than 30 years, and based on his performance alone, he still hasn’t lost that spark. Another tolerable moment I would like to point out is the relationship between Rambo and his niece Gabrielle. It’s far from emotional, but it had the right amount of appeal to make me care about this type of relationship. Yvette Monreal did an OK job portraying Gabrielle. She’s not terrible, but I do believe that she has room for improvement in the near future. Another thing I want to mention is the action, which is the glue that holds the franchise together. After watching the fourth “Rambo” installment a while back, I was hoping that “Last Blood” would be just as violent and fun as that film. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed. It’s definitely brutal and not for people with weak stomachs, but it is also quite satisfying to watch. Even the third act (which is basically an adult-rated version of “Home Alone”) was immensely entertaining and bloody. Even though the story wasn’t anything too special, I think fans should be happy with the violence this film contained. The film also suffers from its generic and stereotypical antagonists, which are the Martinez Brothers, the leaders of the Mexican cartel. The film’s portrayal of the Mexicans can be pretty offensive to some people, and the fact that they’re blandly written didn’t help that much either. On the bright side, this flaw helped make their demise at the hands of Rambo much more fulfilling in my eyes.
Overall, “Rambo: Last Blood” delivered enough violence and enjoyment to satisfy those who are in need of some adult-rated action, but its story might keep certain people away from its gritty nature. As a film that’s made to be a source of popcorn entertainment, it’s suitable for what it’s supposed to be. As a film for “Rambo” fans, it has its moments, but it didn’t exactly serve as a solid conclusion like the title suggested. Despite its flawed storytelling and its stereotypical villains, “Last Blood” was able to make a killing (for the most part) thanks to Stallone’s performance and its enjoyable action scenes. If you’re familiar with the title character, I would say that this one is worth watching at home. As for the newcomers, they’re better off watching its predecessors first.