John Rambo has retreated to northern Thailand, where he's running a longboat on the Salween River. On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the world's longest-running civil war, the Burmese-Karen conflict, rages into its 60th year. But Rambo has long given up fighting, even as medics, mercenaries, rebels and peace workers pass by on...
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John Rambo has retreated to northern Thailand, where he's running a longboat on the Salween River. On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the world's longest-running civil war, the Burmese-Karen conflict, rages into its 60th year. But Rambo has long given up fighting, even as medics, mercenaries, rebels and peace workers pass by on their way to the war-torn region. That all changes when a group of human rights missionaries search out the "American river guide" John Rambo. They explain that the Burmese military has laid landmines along the road, making it too dangerous for overland travel. They ask Rambo to guide them up the Salween and drop them off, so they can deliver medical supplies and food to the Karen tribe. After initially refusing to cross into Burma, Rambo takes them. Less than two weeks later, pastor Arthur Marsh finds Rambo and tells him the aid workers did not return and the embassies have not helped locate them. He tells Rambo he's mortgaged his home and raised money from his congregation to hire mercenaries to get the missionaries, who are being held captive by the Burmese army. Although the United States military trained him to be a lethal super soldier in Vietnam, decades later Rambo's reluctance for violence and conflict are palpable, his scars faded, yet visible. However, the lone warrior knows what he must do.
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Those in the mood for mindless, macho mayhem will enjoy this brawny, brainless throwback to the Reagan Era, with the one and only Sylvester Stallone back in action as John Rambo.
Since his last adventure (nearly 20 years ago, for those keeping score at home), John Rambo's been chilling out, minding his own business, and catching snakes (!) in Thailand. He is persuaded, however, to ferry a group of American missionaries to war-torn Burma--this despite his repeated admonitions to them to "Go home." When the missionaries are, predictably, captured by the Burmese military--every soldier a sadistic slimeball--Rambo is persuaded to then ferry a group of mercenaries into Burma to rescue the missionaries. This he does, with a minimum of subtlety and a maximum of bloodshed. That's the story of Rambo, take it or leave it. It's basically an excuse for the 60-year-old Stallone to go on a rampage. Then again, what else would you expect from a movie like this?
Rambo rips a guy's throat out with his bare hands, which is about as dramatic as the film ever gets, dramatically speaking. It's Stallone, doing his thing--but we know that going in, don't we? Julie Benz is the prettiest of the captive missionaries, and it was she who talked Rambo into bringing her to Burma in the first place, so there's the slightest hint of attraction between them. Otherwise, characterization is nil. The actors on hand are merely functionaries of the simplistic storyline. Many are blown apart by the film's end, anyway, while others are merely roughed up. No one, including the audience, emerges unscathed.
This is the first Rambo film directed by Stallone, and to a large extent, it's by-the-numbers filmmaking. The formula's already established. At its best, which isn't terribly often, the film acts as a pure, blunt catharsis for the viewer. If you're wound up or in a grumpy mood, just sit back and watch Stallone decimate everyone and everything in his path. You may hate yourself in the morning but there you are. Rambo is dumb but it's never dull.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.
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