Rambo: Last Blood | Adrian Grunberg | September 20, 2019
Rambo: Last Blood is likely to be the final entry in the beloved 80s action franchise Rambo, and what a shame that it has to bow out in such an ugly fashion. While the Rambo series has never lived up to First Blood, the beloved first entry that started it all in 1982, no matter how cheesy or nutty, there were still some redeeming qualities in the craft. However, there is none of that to be found in Last Blood, a film that is such a far cry from the film that started it all that you could have mistaken it as a piss-poor reboot of the Taken franchise.
Last Blood follows the events of 2008’s Rambo, finding John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) all settled down in Bowie, Arizona on his father’s horse ranch, raising and riding horses. He lives there with his (platonic) friend Maria Beltran (Adriana Barraza) and her granddaughter, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). He’s taken a surrogate father role for Gabrielle, who lost her mother and has been disconnected from her father who hasn’t been heard from since he moved down to Mexico. Rambo looks forward to nothing more than seeing his surrogate daughter off to college soon.
Gabrielle loves Rambo like her own father, but she received some new information about his whereabouts from her old friend Gizelle (Fenessa Pineda) and goes to visit her dad (Marco de la O) against the wishes of both Rambo and Maria. As you can guess, things go awry when she ends up in some really bad company (led by a pair of brothers played by Óscar Jaenada and Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and Rambo is forced to come out of retirement and do what he does best.
Lifelessly directed by Adrian Grunberg based on a limp script co-written by Matthew Cirulnick and Stallone, Last Blood is an utter failure on nearly every level. It has a flat and lifeless quality to it that isn’t helped by Brendan Galvin’s bland cinematography. While the original film showed Rambo taking care of business in various ways, there was meaning behind it and it was handled in a way that felt just and delivered on the post-Vietnam themes that resonated at the time. Here, it’s just familiar treading of a revenge plot with a mean and nasty approach that quite frankly doesn’t feel like the real John Rambo fans have fallen in love with. Not to mention it tackles ideas that are very narrow-minded and border on lazy Mexican stereotypes that fall flat, especially in today’s climate.
Sure, Rambo has always kicked ass and delivered names, but under Grunberg’s direction, he feels like a poor man’s version of John Wick thrust into the world of Taken. He’s a far cry from the character that so many fell in love with over the years. This is a soulless and joyless ride that never resonates or rises to the occasion in any way. It’s just Rambo engaging in over-the-top violence that feels completely unearned and unnecessary, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And this is coming from someone who loves a good pulpy violent film, as long as there is either some substance to it or it achieves a level of entertaining fun that this never ever approaches.
Stallone has had a few solid turns in the past few years with both Creed films and a small turn in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and this should’ve been a great way for him to retire this character, but instead, it’s an utter embarrassment to all that came before. It’s not only clearly the worst entry in the franchise but one of the worst films that you will see all year.