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Rapid Reviews – Rambo

May 16, 2009

Stallone is 2 for 2 in bringing his 80s action icons back to the big screen. Rocky Balboa is easily the 2nd best film of the Rocky series (which is not to say I don’t love seeing Rock pummel Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago), and Rambo is the 2nd best of the Rambo series. It’s amazing what happens when you put character at the forefront and shape the action and plot around that character. Look, I’m not saying Rambo is a deep and penetrating analysis of the human condition, but Stallone’s Rambo is a person, not a plot device, and on top of that, the movie deals with the very real atrocities that are happening in modern day Burma. When Rambo brings the violence (and boy does he bring it), it feels justified. Is it gratuitous? Oh my, yes. But these bastards are getting what they deserve. And let’s not kid ourselves, bullets and bombs and landmines don’t make for clean deaths. (According to Stallone, they usually make for very gooey deaths. I can pretty much promise you that you will not see another film with as much loose flesh flying through the frame.  People don’t get shot in this movie, they get evaporated.  A landmine doesn’t blow your leg off.  It blows your you off.)  But is it better to sterilize that brutality for mass consumption or show it for the true horror it is? Count me on the side that says, “Show me the gory details (just so long as it’s entertaining).”  In all seriousness though, Stallone has crafted a lean, mean action movie that hearkens back to an age when action movies were black and white, good and evil, and had “heroes” with no moral dilemma about the righteousness of their cause (or any compuction about killing swathes of anonymous bad guys).  And while I think that mentality is more than a little dangerous in the real world, it’s a hell of a lot of fun at the movies.

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