A ‘Sly’ return

“When you’re pushed, killing’s as easy as breathing.” Never before has this statement been proven with the intensity shown in Rambo.

Sylvester “Sly” Stallone is back, reviving another movie franchise that seemed finished, as John Rambo, a Vietnam War vet and the king of kicking ass and taking names. However, we see a different Rambo in the beginning. He is living in Thailand and working as a boatman, fishing and hunting for a living. He has become indifferent to the world around him, even while a civil war entering its 60th year rages on in nearby Burma.

Rambo’s new life of relative peace and quiet is interrupted by a group of missionaries looking for passage into Burma to help some refugees. He flatly refuses, on the grounds that they will change nothing and likely be killed. One of the missionaries, played by Julie Benz, is able to convince Rambo that their work can save lives and he relents. Some time later, Rambo is greeted by a pastor who says the missionaries are being held captive by Burmese fighters and begs our hero to bring the mercenaries he’s hired to the village to rescue them.

What follows is when the bulk of the action takes place. The scene in which the missionaries are captured is one of the most violent and horrifying scenes in motion picture history because of the degree of slaughter of so many innocent people. Some truly torturous scenes, including a terrifying game the rebels play with some captives, give the movie an almost sickening nature. Indeed, this film is the deadliest of the entire Rambo quadrilogy, with a whopping 236 deaths portrayed along with an untold amount of blood and guts. With a running time of about 90 minutes, that’s almost three deaths per minute.

Inevitably, the viewer is treated to the least favorite part of most action movies: the dialogue. And an even better treat is that this is Stallone’s dialogue; he wrote and directed this film himself, which is not a bad thing at all, since some scenes in this movie make the other Rambo films look quite tame in comparison. The vast majority of Sly’s lines are single sentences, a good idea because you truly cannot help but laugh at some of the things he tries to say. Some particularly hilarious moments come when Rambo is pushed by people and he rages at them in his garbled, growling voice. On the plus side, once the action gets going, no actor speaks more than 10 words at a time, letting the killing speak for itself.

If you can see through the action, the film does have a serious point to make. Before the movie begins, we are shown a montage of actual news clips showing atrocities taking place around the world. Missionaries who go to help are being killed, as shown in the film. It depicts the good that these people do only to have it all wiped out when the military arrives and starts the slaughter. It’s an unspoken call to action to halt what people across the globe are calling genocide.

With that all said, at its core, this is a Rambo movie. If you lack the thirst for violence, slaughter, and gore that is necessary to watch this movie, then in the name of all that is good and holy, stay away. But for those of us who need to see some bodies dismembered every once in a while, Rambo is perfect and proves once again why Stallone is a legend of action cinema.