Movie review / ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ (R)

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Aged 73, Sylvester Stallone as Rambo… few men could play a role like that at that age.

“Rambo: Last Blood” (R)

IN two of his first four film roles, Sylvester Stallone went uncredited. Then in 1977, after 10 minor roles, he got nominated for an Oscar in “Rocky”, the first of three including one for writing a screenplay. The rest is history.

One of the most notable characters he has played in 69 subsequent films is returned soldier John Rambo, a man of little subtlety shedding his own and others’ blood doing things best described as corrective, to bad people who deserved everything he gave them. They’re formulaic in the best traditions of cinema action. 

Stallone’s now 73. Few men could play a role like Rambo at that age. 

This, reflecting a decision that denotes wisdom, is the last time we will see Rambo riding into the sunset with a heart wracked by grief at the loss of a beloved niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) whom he has rescued from a Mexican sex-slave ring. 

Coming to that point involves about two thirds of the film delivering a credible drama that works because of a screenplay by Matthew Cirulnick and Stallone. Gabrielle has been forced into slavery by the vicious Martinez brothers (Oscar Jaenada and Sergio Peris-Mencheta). Some interesting statistics crop up in the film: 70,000 women, each earning $300,000, few surviving – reliable statistics are hard to track down, and Donald Trump’s big wall (it appears in the film, seen from a suite on the top floor of the brothel) seems not to have stemmed the trade.

After burying Gabrielle and dismissing the loyal housekeeper who has kept house on his small ranch in Arizona, Rambo sets about preparing for the Armageddon he expects from the Martinez brothers and their loyal thugs. 

About the last quarter of the film shows how effectively he has built his defences. It’s wild, angry, blood-smeared action, convincingly staged by director Adrian Grunberg, about as good of its kind as you might find.

Come to think of it, just about everything in the film, no matter how gruesome or brutal, is about as good of its kind as you might find.

At Dendy, Capitol 6, Hoyts and Limelight

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"Rambo: Last Blood" (R) *** and a half
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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