“Rambo: Last Blood”

MOVIE REVIEW: “Rambo: Last Blood” stars Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Paz Vega (Spanglish, Sex and Lucia), Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Resident Evil: After Life, Life Itself), Adriana Barraza (Thor, Babel), Yvette Monreal (Stargirl [TV series], Faking It [TV series]), Oscar Jaenada (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Losers), and Joaquín Cosio (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Lone Ranger [2013]). It is directed by Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo, The Black Demon), with the screenplay being written by Matthew Cirulnick (Absentia [TV series], South Beach [TV series]), Sylvestor Stallone, and Dan Gordon (Wyatt Earp [1994], Let There Be Light [2017]).

John Rambo (Stallone) must return to his violent ways when a loved one is taken and placed in a human trafficking circuit in Mexico.

“Now I draw the last blood.” Was that a quote from the movie? No. But it should’ve been. With a title like this, you’d expect some sort of memorable, cheesy line.

I’m incredibly late to this Rambo party. Years ago, I reviewed the entire franchise, before this final iteration released to theaters. It only seemed natural to buy a ticket and watch the blood and carnage unfold; alas, school was hectic, and I never found myself making it out to the box office or redbox. But here I am, having finally seen it, and I gotta say… it’s not awful.

When this puppy came out, critics roasted it. I wasn’t surprised. It’s a cash grab franchise flick (and the fifth one at that). My expectations were to have a good laugh at the very least, and if I was lucky I’d be entertained. For the most part, “Last Blood” is indeed entertaining, filled with enough action, cliché dialogue, and silly situations to keep an audience on their toes.

Many years have past since the last movie, and now Rambo lives on a farm with a family. Not a family by blood mind you (no matter what the title may suggest), but some sort of woman and girl duo that he just so happened to become a guardian of. On the farm is a series of trenches that Rambo hides out in. I guess he takes pleasure in reminding himself of Vietnam. But the real story lies on the girl he watches after, Gabriella (Monreal), who travels to Mexico to find her real father, only to get taken by sex traffickers.

This story proved to be a more serious one than I anticipated. The topic of sex trafficking is heavy, and the filmmakers behind “Last Blood” were ballsy in tackling it. One thing I commend this movie for is never holding back; there are a lot of messed up, horrific things that take place in this story, which caught me off guard. Without spoiling it, there are some sharp turns taken. To the point where it can honestly be unpredictable. Of course, quite a bit of this could be attested to the fact that this is a short film that cuts corners.

In its hour and thirty minute runtime, “Last Blood” feels like it left a lot on the cutting room floor. Getting from point A to point B came with haste. Time jumps around quickly, and hardly any moment is soaked in. By the time the ending arrives, I wondered if the first and second act came more as an afterthought, and the initial pitch was the finale. “What if we had Rambo fight some guys on a farm?” I mean, it’s what the trailer suggests. And man, does Rambo have his day. The violence is gruesome, much like the last movie. If there’s one thing I never understood, it’s why Stallone opted to have this series show more gore after the third installment. I guess it looks cooler? To me, it’s more shock value than story weight, and came in too much of excess at times (that first Rambo stab where he pulled the guys collar bone through his skin? Come on, son).

“Last Blood” has been marketed as the final film in the Rambo series. You’d hope for something grand. While the action is solid and the storyline can be hard-hitting, it never seemed to give itself time. This led to some cliché moments and forced tension, which ultimately hindered the emotional core these filmmakers were pushing for. I didn’t find it as horrendous as the critics; at the very least, they gave me a show. But in terms of Rambo’s last ride, I was hoping for something more gripping, which could’ve came if the story was just fleshed out more. Will this really be his last blood? Only time (and the growing desire of the dollar) will tell. FINAL SCORE: 65%= Burnt Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

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