Rambo: Last Blood Movie Review
A very disappointing low-budget chapter of the legendary Rambo saga.
“This is what it feels like!” – John Rambo.
Sorry for the pretty harsh review mates but it comes from the heart of a true action fan.
The story of a veteran Green Beret John Rambo started in 1982 where he started a one-man war against Sheriff and his deputies in the mountains of Washington but who can predict that 37 years later he will end up as an old soldier cutting the heads and ripping hearts out of the chest of a Mexican cartel lord.
The First Blood was filmed by Ted Kotcheff in 1982 who started his career in the late 1950s and twice won the British Emmy for Best Director. His version of Rambo became one of the biggest box-office winners of all time.
The second film about Rambo was filmed by George P. Cosmatos in 1985 who is well-known for complex action shots and saving troubled projects. He perfectly unveiled Rambo’s killing skills in the jungles of Vietnam. Later he worked with Sly on the Cobra movie.
The Rambo III was released in 1988 under the direction of Peter MacDonald who started his career as a director with this movie. Earlier he was a second unit director on The Empire Strikes Back and Rambo 2, but started as a clapper loader and camera operator. Later he served as an executive producer on Tango & Cash. Mr. MacDonald showcased Rambo’s military skills in the desert of Afganistan.
The next Rambo was filmed 20 years later in 2008 by Sylvester Stallone himself with the help of Harvey Harrison who served as a second unit director. Mr. Harrison is known for V for Vendetta, Around the World in 80 Days and Equilibrium movies, he also served as a camera operator on the 007: GoldenEye, The Mummy, Lara Croft, and Shanghai Knights. Stallone decided to show how Rambo is able to rescue a group of Christian aid workers in Burma.
11 years later Rambo got his another GO.
The Last Blood is filmed by Adrian Grunberg who was a director of the Get the Gringo film with Mel Gibson in 2012 but mostly worked as first assistant director on Collateral Damage, Man on Fire, Apocalypto, and Jack Reacher.
Cuts and screenplay
After initial filming, the film was test screened in spring of 2019 and sent for re-shoots and additional photography in May-June. The movie was edited just weeks before theatrical release and at last minute it was cut down even further to be shorter and faster-paced.
It’s interesting, what was wrong with the movie in the first place and what exactly has been re-shot? You can notice that trailers show some deleted scenes and dialogue.
Reportedly, Stallone and David Morrell initially came up with a tale that was closer to a soulful and heart-wrenching story of an aging man yearning to break free of his violent existence. Sadly, another version has been green-lit by producers.
Maybe the screenplay by Stallone was good in the beginning but after all these cuts became a clunky work deep plot holes and embarrassing dialogues.
Authors cut two main scenes in the movie where Rambo deals with a character of Victor Martinez and where he gets his knife back. These two scenes were aimed to showcase Rambo close-combat skills and what he is most capable of. Even the scene in Mexica where he set the trap and killing cartel soldiers could be more intense and colorful.
Villains were always a huge part of Rambo saga and a strong drive behind John’s power to survive. But in the Last Blood hordes of Mexican killers are stupid to even think who are they dealing with or at least see the trap ahead. Rambo just butchering them.
All efforts of Oscar Jaenada and Sergio Peris-Mencheta playing two cruel and unprincipled brothers were dissolved in the last cut of the movie.
Actually, this is very strange that producers haven’t found any familiar faces to play the drug cartel leaders… there are so many actors capable of that.
This leads me to the conclusion that the script was terrible from the beginning and the budget was low where most of the money was aimed to go on blow-up scenes.
I suppose by agreeing to play the main villain, some notable celebrity or even a well-known Latino actor could ruin his future career even if it is a legendary Rambo sequel. But this is just my thoughts maybe it was another story behind it…
Rambo was never stupid, maybe he was naive in the beginning but never brainless. Here he goes right in the center of a gangster’s place where he can be killed right at the spot or at least at the top of the hill where over 50 thugs with guns can finish him any second.
What happened with his military background, sense of danger or sanity at least? Where is the plan, where is the tactic?
John Rambo was never a psycho soldier with a sadistic nature. Yes, he was suffering from the PTSD and his demons but he was always keeping this under control.
Why he is so brutal with one of the gangsters broking his collarbone with bare hands? Why does he cut the head? Why does he rip out the heart? What is happening?
Victor and Hugo
Victor and Hugo are brothers lead the group of sex traffickers. Victor is sadistic when his brother is intelligent. They are the great mix from the first look but later you realize that Victor is the real deal who should be the main leader and bring a lot of troubles to John Rambo.
But not in this movie. Where the climax scene with cold-blooded Victor could be a very brutal showdown, the climax fight with Hugo is boring and predictable.
Authors deleted the scene where Victor meets Rambo and gets him back his knife.
Maria and Gabrielle
Maria is a grandma of Gabrielle who is Rambo’s adopted daughter. John cares about her for the last ten years. Gabrielle heads to Mexico to see her no-account dad, who abandoned the family but winds up being kidnapped as a sex slave by a Mexican cartel. This serves as a start for Rambo to bring back his special skills.
Gabrielle and Maria bring a tone of the relationship, showing the bonding and chemistry between Rambo and ladies sharing the same house and breakfast.
From the storyline point of view, there was no point in killing Gabrielle as she could play her role to the end and bring more intense, as well as Maria. If they both stayed at the same ranch with Rambo it could be seen as more real and dramatic final scene.
Rambo could save they both once again or at least got shot while protecting them and not just by a stray bullet, like in the final cut. Yes, this is predictable but this is more believable.
The journalist who lost her sister in Mexico. She saves Rambo but her story is so thinly sketched what makes her just another extra that doesn’t bring anything to the table.
The same way, Rambo could be saved by a stranger who called an ambulance seeing him dying in the street.
Authors could give this character more opportunity to step up and told the world the story of Rambo and what happened on the ranch, but it didn’t happen.
The sheriff is played by Louis Mandylor who appears only in the beginning during the rescue mission. He could play a much bigger role or even help Rambo in the final fight.
He could play a much better cartel leader.
My take on actors
This cast could give huge favor to the legendary saga and put the fifth chapter to absolutely different level if it’s done with a budget of at least $100M and a good script.
The sheriff could be played by Boyd Holbrook who could help Rambo to take care of the cartel in Arizona.
It could be a very good old-school action movie.
Before the release, Stallone stated: “What’s coming is going to be unlike anything you have ever seen…”
We all hoped the movie is going to be in the best veins of Rambo but what started as a brilliant dramatic story of a veteran in Washington ended as a terrible act of violent revenge on sex traffickers in Arizona.
The Last Blood picks up with John Rambo having spent the last years living on his father’s ranch in Arizona, caring for his horses and serving as a surrogate father.
The Last Blood fails to deliver right from the start where you can clearly see the low budget in the scenes of rescuing the kids stuck in the hard rain. John serves as a silent volunteer of a rescue team who managed to save one girl when others nobody.
The introduction part of the legendary saga has to be more intense when you talk about Rambo but looks like authors and first-time watchers completely forgot what is an old-school action mean chewing popcorn during another superman film.
The scenes on the ranch are good and leave a good hope for a top-notch action but it fails to deliver once the story moves to Mexico.
Even if some scenes in Mexico are well filmed and manage to be intense while you waiting when Rambo will put a storm on Mexicans using his dangerous military skills the whole plot and thinly sketched characters ruin everything at the end.
Rambo II grossed $300M when Rambo III got just $189M. In 2008 Rambo grossed just $113 million worldwide with a budget of $50M. The Last Blood has just hit the cinema and grossing will tell would it be another part or not.
Regarding iMBD, the Fist Blood has a rating of 7.7, Rambo 2 – 6.5, Rambo 3 – 5.8, and Rambo 4 has 7. The Last Blood is already rated at 7.2. If this is what viewers want to see now I better skip every sequel or remake from now on and will stay watching the original on VHS.
At Cannes 2019, Stallone stated that he would continue to play the character of John Rambo, should Rambo: Last Blood proves to be successful.
The Last Blood is an undeniably awful movie and not as strong, smart and thoughtful as the First Blood. Even the follow-ups were not so bad in quality and with a clear effort to film a worthy sequel.
I’m a huge Sylvester Stallone fan and glad to see him back in action. With such a successful franchise, it’s hard to live up to the glory days.
Maybe if the Last Blood does well at the box office, it will inspire Stallone to make a proper chapter for a Rambo character that has served him long and well and made him one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars.
Don’t miss the final credits with a sentimental greatest-hits montage of a legendary Rambo saga moments over the years, ending with an unexpected present-day shot of John Rambo riding off into the sunset on his horse.