::Literate Blather::
Monday, July 07, 2008
Fantastically Bad Cinema: Rambo

The fourth installment of the Rambo series – simply titled “Rambo” (amazingly that wasn’t taken) – has an uncomplicated message:

Non-violence is for pussies.

That’s why more than 230 people are killed – on screen – in this blood lust of a movie. The violence is graphic: limbs blown off, skulls crushed under boots, throats torn out, and heads decapitated.

But all in the name of truth and justice!

“Rambo” (2008) exploits the deplorable situation in Burma – the country’s military junta has been in the process of ethnic cleansing the Karen natives for more than 60 years. But even worse is the film’s simple-minded and cynical solution – the only way to counteract violence is with more violence. All the peaceful characters in the movie are either killed or see the violent light (a Christian doctor, for example, who deplores the taking of life finally bashes the brains out of a Burmese soldier with a sharp rock).

"Rambo" is a bad film. But it wants to be more than the sum of its parts. It wants to be an "important" action film -- blood, sweat, and bullets with a message. But it ain't.

“Rambo” features a lumbering Sylvester Stallone reprising his role as the conflicted, ultra-violent ex-Green Beret John Rambo. Stallone resembles the giant from Jack in the Beanstalk as he thuds heavily across the screen grunting and muttering gems like: “They would've raped her 50 times and cut your fucking heads off” and “Fuck the world.” He's supposed to be the wise old warrior -- but he comes across as a retarded oaf.

As the movie opens, we find a sweaty, bloated Rambo living in Thailand as the owner of a river boat. He makes his living ferrying passengers, collecting poisonous snakes for a modest tourist attraction, and sweating profusely. A group of clean-cut Christian missionaries in bright colored outfits shows up and asks Rambo to take them into war-torn Burma so they can administer medical aid and bring humanitarian supplies to the victims.

The missionaries, with the exception of the pretty blond Sarah (played by Julie Benz), are portrayed as a bunch of sheltered, self-righteous wimps. When a perspiring Rambo mumbles that the only way to help the victims is to smuggle in weapons, the missionaries become aghast. Rambo, oozing like a sponge, scowls at them.

It’s amazing that the Christian Right didn’t go ballistic over “Rambo” because the underlying message of the film is that the Christian approach to conflict resolution: humanitarian aid, peaceful co-existence, etc. is crap. The movie portrays these do-gooder Christians as arrogant, weak-kneed morons.

As one of the mercenaries later growls at the leader of the church group: “God didn't save you, we did.”

Rambo reluctantly takes the missionaries into Burma and drops them off at a peaceful village of Karen natives. This idyllic situation lasts all of five minutes before the Burmese military – under the direction of a ruthless Colonel (who sports large, oval sunglasses and ends up being a pedophile homosexual) – attacks and kills as many villagers as possible. The scene is not for the faint of heart (lots of special effects enhanced blood sprays and flying body parts).

The missionaries aren’t killed, of course, but taken prisoner so they can be tortured in creative ways (such as being devoured alive by starving hogs). Rambo, dripping wet after a rain storm, is hired by the missionary group’s reverend to lead a pack of mercenaries into Burma for a rescue mission. These jokers are bad news – and out for themselves – so it is up to Rambo to reel them in.

“There isn't one of us that doesn't want to be someplace else. But this is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something,” Rambo mumbles at one point (wetness dripping from his forehead).

Now the real blood sport begins. The movie makes sure to justify all of the ruthless violence administered by Rambo – because the bad guys have already committed so many atrocities that the audience can only root for Rambo to kill them all.

And he does a damn good job. In fact, it's fantastically bad cinema at its finest (and dampest).

Unfortunately, “Rambo” doesn’t elevate much beyond the gore and the eye-for-an-eye mentality. What the movie does best is show the results of human growth hormone on the body of a 61-year-old actor (visualize: waterlogged).

Fantastically Bad Cinema: Cocktail

M. Night Shyamalan: I See Bad Director

Is Indiana Jones a Misogynist?

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Blogger SQT said...
This post cracks me up. My husband is a die hard Rambo fan. I think it's because he grew up with Rambo and so he sticks with the character for sentimental reasons. I'm glad I haven't bothered to watch any of these since the first one.

Blogger GFS3 said...
The first one holds up pretty well until Stallone's pathetic, tearful speech at the end.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wow, have to disagree with the reviewer of this movie. He comes across as a real pussy, obviously doesn't do anything but piss and complain about things he'll never be able to change due to his lack of balls.
The fact of the matter is, violence always wins in the end. Unless you think some beneviolent super being is going to come down and fix everything... then again, what would that super being fix everything with? Probably more violence. Lesson learned.

Blogger GFS3 said...
Yeah, Gandhi really didn't win a thing until he locked and loaded.


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