Tuesday, June 10, 2008

RAMBO: 5.0 out of 5 stars

Sly never disappoints. Even if it's not really him, just some guy wearing a Stallone mask, June 5, 2008

It's a double-dip this week. We polished off Rambo after the wonderful Forced Vengeance. Sid the Elf doesn't want to start a "Paul is Dead" type of conspiracy theory here, but are we sure that it was Sly in Rambo and not just some guy wearing a Sly Stallone mask? All right, we'll move on. Why Sly decided to revive Rambo, Sid doesn't know. Maybe it was because Rocky Balboa was well enough received. Maybe because he signed a new 3 picture deal(Lockup 2 has to be in the works. Please, Sly!). Whatever the reason, Sid couldn't be happier that John Rambo is back enforcing American righteousness. Even if the old boy Sly had to have botox injections between takes, it was worth it. Rambo was killer--seriously.

This time, Rambo lives in Southeast Asia. His existence is really simple and peaceful. Rambo actually seems happy, even if his first line in the movie was "f-off." He catches dangerous snakes in the jungle and sells them to a sort of circus. While he's selling off his latest catch, a missonary from Colorado, played by the priest from The Sopranos, approaches Rambo about renting his boat to take the group of missionaries into Burma. The plot thickens, literally.

Not wanting to go near the sensitivities about the Middle East, Sly decided on setting Rambo in Burma. He centered the film on the conflict between two factions there. In the words of Father Phil, "It's more like genocide." The missionaries want to go to Burma to help the group that is being slaughtered. Rambo expresses what Sid is sure everyone watching the movie was thinking: that going into Burma at that point is just a really bad, stupid idea. But, it's here that we see the softer side of Rambo. He lets Sara, who is one of the missionaries, played by the incomparable Julie Benz, talk him into taking them to Burma in his boat(there is probably the ultimate Quagmire joke to be made with that sentence, but Sid will keep this one clean). Not that we can blame Rambo here, she could probably coax Sid into oncoming traffic. Anyway, en route to their destination, Rambo and the gang encounter Burmese pirates. Of course, Rambo obliterates them. He then drops the group off, and tells them they're on their own and goes back to the pirates' boat to blow it up and destroy the evidence. You know these Burmese dudes are no joke if Rambo is covering his tracks.

About 10 days pass and Rambo gets a visit at his home while he's asleep in his hammock. He is told that the group of missionaries has been captured(shocker) and a band of mercenaries has been hired to get them. Rambo then agrees to take the mercenaries to the point he dropped the missionaries. The leader of the mercenaries is a real stroonz. He argues with Rambo without John J. even saying a word. He even commented on Rambo's "thousand yard stare," saying that he's "seen it all before," and that he's "not impressed." Anyway, when they reach their destination, Rambo sets off to go onto land with them. He's told to piss off basically. Unreal. He goes another route anyway, unbeknown to the mercenaries. When they get in trouble, Rambo bails them out. He then organizes the group to infiltrate the camp where the missionaries are being held. He gets them out, but now they have to reach safety. This proves rather tricky, and ends up being the climax of the film. Obviously, Rambo and the mercenaries have a massive firefight with the Burmese militants. This scene lasts for a good 10-15 minutes and is filled with a wonderfully abundant amount bullets and explosions. The best thing about it though was that it looked so realistic. Guys didn't go flying 10 feet into the air. They just crumpled against the ground. So, after they win(you knew they would) Rambo leaves. We then see him in his old Army jacket with his old bag walking along a road presumably in his hometown of Bowie, Arizona. He is at his father's ranch. As the closing credits roll, he approaches the house.

If you notice, Sid doesn't make too much fun of this one, well except for Sly's new weird face. The reason for this is that Rambo was a genuinely good film--seriously. It did have a ton I mean a TON of explosions and guys being ripped apart by large caliber bullets which never hurts the cause. There were 262 kills in Rambo, more than the first three films combined. Sid was surprised by this figure because it didn't seem like there were THAT many bodies falling. The reason for our surprise: the violence was integral to the plot. It underscored the fact that what was going on in Burma was deplorable. In the battle scene, Father Phil picked up a rock and bashed an attacker's head in with a purely visceral look on his face. A more clear symbol of man's survival instincts Sid cannot imagine. Here is a man who vigorously denounced killing at the beginning of the film, but changed when he had to. Sly must be huge on change. He uses it as a major theme in Rambo, just like he did in Rocky 4. And you know what? It's what pulled the film together. Sid really cannot even make fun of the scene with Rambo walking down the street at the end. It signified him coming full circle and finally exercising his demons. Under normal circumstances, Sid would have been hysterical at this sight. But it was actually nice to see some sentimentality and a layer added to a character who, up to that point had been just a killing machine. So, kudos to Sly for a really well-done effort. See Rambo, it is one of the better action flicks around.

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