Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Directed By Adrian Grunberg
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Menchet
By Tim Basaraba
With Sylvester Stallone serving as both co-screenwriter and producer for what is likely to be the last film in his Rambo franchise, Rambo: Last Blood, the iconic superstar wisely gave directing chores to a more innovative, though less seasoned talent.
Perhaps Stallone learned from the missteps of 2008’s Rambo (the fourth in the series, titled Rambo instead of Rambo 4), the first and only film in the actor’s second most-famous franchise that he directed himself, because with Last Blood second-time director Adrian Grunberg delivers an ultra-violent film filled with weight and pathos.
Where the last film felt like a retread of the first three, Rambo: Last Blood takes an interesting approach to telling a violent story. As the film’s first act unfolds the viewer may wonder if they’ve wandered into the wrong theater and are watching the latest in the Taken franchise, with Stallone stepping in for Liam Neeson. Instead of sticking to familiar “Daddy Savior” troupes it moves more into less familiar territory for the franchise.
Although not as well done as the gold standard in this genre, Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really (2017), Rambo: Last Blood takes its cues from that film’s stellar Joaquin Phoenix performance. John Rambo no longer screams and flexes while dispatching his foes. Instead, he silently stalks and sets traps, almost like Kevin in Home Alone but with more brutal results.
The film’s run time is perfect too, clocking in at and hour and 30 minutes with the final act culminating in cathartic revenge after a well-placed montage.
If First Blood was an A all the other Rambo films were C’s & D’s, Last Blood is a Solid B.
If you’re counting at home, here’s the run-down of all the films in Rambo the series.
- First Blood (1982)
- Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
- Rambo III (1988)
- Rambo (2008)
- Rambo Last Blood (2019)