February 7, 2008

REVIEW: Rambo (F)

This review is actually written by Matt Anderson, subbing in for Mr. Getahun, who for some reason chose to avoid this one.

Background: After the 2006 release of Rocky Balboa, Slyvester Stallone continues his Farewell Tour by revisiting his other iconic character, John Rambo. Though I can’t honestly say I’ve seen a one of the first three Rambo movies from start-to-finish, being a lifetime subscriber to TNT has given me a fairly decent overview of what we’re dealing with here. Rambo is an ex-Vietnam vet with war in his blood and saltines in his mouth. He generally spends about thirty minutes engaging in some mind-numbingly clunky (and usually indecipherable) dialogue which serves to setup the unleashing of the killing machine that is Rambo, which incidentally is the Japanese word for violence. His opponents thus far have been a small-time police force (I), the Vietnamese (II), and the Russians (III). As for Stallone, at the age of 61 and fresh off an HGH smuggling scandal, cashing in on two characters from the 80s would seem to be a shameful move, but honestly, what else is he gonna do ? He’s Sylvester Stallone. Honestly, have you ever been the eyewitness to a DVD collection that included a Stallone movie in which he wasn’t playing one of these two characters ? Didn’t think so.

Synopsis: Rambo is living in Thailand
and working in the snake trade. Along come a group of missionaries from some church in Colorado who need his boat expertise to travel into Burma so they can deliver food and bibles to the oppressed villagers. After rebuffing the leader’s request, the missionaries successfully use the one woman (as played by Julie Benz) in their group to convince Rambo, and off we go to Burma. He drops them off, returns home and then endures (more accurately, we all endure) a flashback montage that serves some sort of purpose. Along comes the leader of the Colorado church, who somehow knows that his group has been kidnapped. He also wants Rambo’s boat experience to take his group of hired mercenaries into Burma to rescue the missionaries. Rambo and the incredibly dumb mercenaries take out the evil Burmese, and we all learn a little something about using our free time wisely. Then at the end Rambo returns to the U.S. to his dad’s horse farm (???).

I Loved:
+ Uh…Rambo killed a fish with a bow-and-arrow. That was pretty cool.

I Liked:
+ Stallone. While other actors his age (DeNiro, Pacino, etc.) are embarrassing themselves as of late, at least Sly is doing what he does best. And really, who else could utter lines like “When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing.”

+ There is one great Bad Movie scene where the head missionary and Sara (the obligatory love interest) argue loudly about whether Rambo is worth approaching. The camera pans out and it turns out Rambo is sitting right next to them.

I Disliked:
- Other than Stallone, who is obviously in on the joke, the acting is terrible. The missionaries and the mercenaries all utter their lines like they’re in an actual movie and this is their big break. I predict most of them will be playing Cop #2 for the rest of their lives.

I Hated:
- The new style of making an action movie is just infuriating. Quick cuts and unnecessary close-ups don’t make it more exciting. And another thing, does a head/arm/leg have to fly off every time someone gets shot ? Damn you Braveheart.

- The villain. The key to making a Bad Movie work is having a good villain. This one is so forgettable that I can’t even remember what differentiated him from the other Burmese soldiers. He was either wearing a fedora or had a mustache. And to make matters even worse, Rambo finishes him off in about two seconds.

-The ending. Once the bullets stop flying Sarah and her obnoxious boyfriend are both still alive. They embrace, and the camera shows Rambo with a crushed look on his face, and then it’s off to the horse farm. The ultimate killing machine gets turned into a sexually frustrated horse trainer. Good luck selling Rambo V.

Writing – 2
Acting – 3
Production - 6
Emotional Impact - 2
Music - 4
Significance - 1

Total: 18/50= 36% = F

Last Word: This is the part where I’m supposed to talk about how America
’s culture of violence (the movie boasts a kill count of 236), Stallone’s trivialization of war, and the sad state of the Hollywood movie. But that would ignore this juicy little nugget---“Reuters reported today (Tuesday). In a report from Yangon, the wire service said that the movie, in which the country's military junta is portrayed as the enemy, is "fast becoming a talking point among a population eager to shake off 45 years of military rule." Reuters indicated that a paraphrased line from the movie, "Live for nothing, die for something," has become a rallying cry within the country and has buoyed the resolve of opponents of the military regime.” Take that Lions for Lambs. And the F rating listed above is unfair, as this movie delivers exactly what its target audience wants, none of which includes emotional impact or solid writing. It would be more fair to compare it to the ultimate Bad Movies (Over the Top and Roadhouse being the standard) and the recent trips down Nostalgia Lane (Rocky Balboa and Die Hard 4). Unfortunately when compared to those four movies, this movie still fails across the board. It doesn’t have the unintentional humor of the first two, nor the intentional humor of the last two. I’m sure you can find something better to do with ninety minutes and ten bucks.


  1. Ooh, it's nice to see a negative review on this. It's far and few between. Personally I love this movie and I think it's the best war movie ever made. It could have been called "War, What is it good for?" for all I care. This movie wasn't about Rambo at all, although you gotta love the moody character, this was about the brutality and reality of war. Even without Rambo, this would have been a wonderful movie.

    I can really say that I have never seen a movie like this, and I probably never will and this movie has set a new standard for war movies.

  2. Worst movie of the year, which isn't saying much in February I guess.

  3. I resent your DVD collection comment, Matt. I actually own Cliffhanger and Demolition Man on VHS. I guess that's not DVD, but you get the point.

  4. I did forget about Cliffhanger. But you will be given no pass for Demolition Man.

  5. Wow, our first "F". Welcome, Matt, and thanks for letting me avoid this, though that "Bad Movie" scene you "liked" sounds pretty funny. No reason for the introduction as a sub, either, as this certainly won't be the last appearance you make, friendo. I'll have to add the "crap" label to some previous reviews, too.

    Soundtrackgeek, I enjoy your posts but I don't have a sense of whether you could actually be serious in what you've said. Despite your defense of the film, I'm surprised that a.) you've read enough reviews of it to get an idea of the consensus, and b.) there are actually positive reviews in the mix. Can't be.

    Craig, you might need to qualify that as worst movie "seen" of the year, so far. Increasingly we'll have to make that qualification. Meet the Spartans and The Hottie and the Nottie have to be WAY up there, but no respectable person will have seen them, and thus they'll remain off such lists.

    Sauer, I love that your handle is "sow cow."

  6. Haha, nice. I really want to see this one now. Would you say that it is a good bad movie though. That is the clincher for me. I like to see movies that are so bad they are funny from time to time. It keeps your perspective I think. It is impressive that Stallone did this even after the last Rocky.

  7. Since I didn't see it I'm not sure if it's a bad = good, but based on what Matt said, I highly, highly doubt it.

  8. I've read 4 reviews so far, this is the first "negative" review I've read. Consider reading this review from /film http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/02/02/hunters-movie-review-rambo/

    Here's a few other positive reviews:

    Also check out the IMDB score... almost 40.000 people have voted and it stands at 7.9 which means it's good enough to grace the top 250 movies of all time list.

    What is interesting is the critics vs. the people. It seems you are joining the critics side in this as they give a score of 46/100 and people who actually pay to see the movie give it 9.1/10 from Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/rambo2007?q=rambo

    I haven't read any professional movie critic review as they rarely get it right, but I love to read blog reviews of this movie as I watch it as a "regular guy" and not a critic.

    I stand by my view, not because I want to be stubborn, but because I meant what I said.

    So I guess we agree to disagree ;)

  9. Soundtrackgeek, you are an astute and respectable movie-goer. I appreciate anyone who defends their view with logical reasoning. As it turns out, even before your most recent comment I saw the IMDB score (and was surprised) and realized that Rambo has not been universally panned. Consider my earlier words eaten regarding positive reviews.

    Regarding your reasoning: I'm definitely not a professional critic, and I'm not even aspiring to be one. Like you, I like plain talk about what was good and what was bad, though I also enjoy reading people who write more intelligently than me - not that I always agree with them. In this case, not even having seen the movie, I've fallen on the critics' side (and Matt's, whose taste I share for the most part).

    My last conspiracy theory regarding Rambo involves a crazed fanboy group effort to run up the movie's rating wherever possible. But, maybe not - maybe it really is as good as you say.

  10. To All - Matt (the reviewer in this post) has never liked a movie as long as I've known him (I have known him since the 6th grade). He hates pretty much any movie that is mainstream, and that's just his style. If he were to rate 100 movies that were made by major studios, he'd give an "F" to 95 of them... and we love him for it.

    I think that this is one of the best parts of having a movie blog. It's boring to see hundreds of cookie cutter reviews of a film and everyone blowing smoke up Sly's ass. I'd much rather see an opinion like Matt's where he makes an argument for why he doesn't like the film.

    With that said, I haven't seen Rambo yet, and won't see it until it comes to HBO and I can't sleep at night.

    Demolition Man rules.

  11. Daniel, you're probably right about Hottie/Nottie, but it existed in my film going universe just long enough for me to utterly dismiss it and now it's not even a memory.

    But yeah, Rambo is the worst movie I've seen in this short year and an early favorite for worst I'll see in 2008.

  12. To each their own. I did mention that it "delivers exactly what it target audience wants." I just don't happen to be in that target audience. It's funny that you brought up the IMDB member score, the bane of Getahun's existence. And to Mr. Sauer I would say I like at least 90 of 100.


  13. It's true, the IMDB top 250 list is a source of all kinds of frustration for me. I won't even get into studying it now - maybe for a different post.

  14. 10 of 100 was what I was trying to say.

  15. This is great! Whatever Rambo might be, it certainly has created a stir. People loving it and hating it, that's what it's all about!

    Thanks for this great review. Like Sow Cow says, it's wonderful to read opinions like this. I don't know Matt, and I don't know if he hated this movie because it's mainstream or if he actually didn't like it, maybe both?

    Daniel: Hehe I am sure there is no conspiracy going on although an organized posse of Rambo fan boys voting the movie up on the internet would be fun and could be a movie on it's own. I call it "The Rambo Conspiracy" :P.

    I usually disagree with the "professional" critics. I don't know why they hate movies I love and vice versa, but like Matt said, to each their own.

    At least this movie got us all involved, which can only be a good thing.

    Sly has made a new Rocky and Rambo movie, but you know what I would love to see? Sly and Kurt back together again for more mayhem in Tango & Cash 2! Well it may just be a dream, but I will keep dreaming dammit!

  16. Over the Top 2 would change the world.

  17. Fanboys have taken over IMDB, starting with The Matrix and continuing through the LOTR trilogy. Oh well, that's what the site is for - fans.

    Somehow, Rambo has created as much division as Juno, but I'm glad there's been conversation as well, Soundtrackgeek. A record number of comments! Somebody stumbling upon this might even mistake it for a worthwhile blog.

  18. Ooh... Over The Top 2! Hehe, that would be a funny one.... Don't see it happening, but I desperately want Tango & Cash 2 to happen. Come on Sly!

  19. Chicken before the egg. Fletch had a great post of Sly sequels up at Blog Cabins, including both mentioned.


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