Last time we saw John J. Rambo blowing shit up was in Rambo III released way back in 1988 when we thought the Ruskies where bad and the brave Afghani freedom fighters know as the Taliban where good. Oh how time changes everything.
In the 4th, and most probably latest, installment Rambo is living a secluded life near the Burmese border. He spends his days fishing and catching venomous snakes used in shows. One day a couple of western Christian aid workers who think it’s a good idea to go into a war-torn country without any weapons show up and request he takes them over the border. After much hesitation he does so and when they go missing he feels he’s responsible for bringing them back. Which he will do in his usual style.
“Rambo”, much like Rocky Balboa a year earlier, is a movie in which Stallone wants to bring the character full circle and give his story a closed ending. With Rocky Balboa he washed away the foul taste Rocky V left everybody with and with Rambo he brings closure to the story of a man who has been drifting around the globe since the Vietnam war ended. The movie is also more in tone with the first installment, First Blood, than its two direct sequels which were glossy 80’s action movies. The first half hour is a low-key set-up and paints a man tired of war and violence but somehow doesn’t seem to be able to escape it. Despite his skills he’s a tragic figure.
What’s also interesting that this time for the majority of the running time Rambo works together with a team of mercenaries. They are reluctant at first since he never opens up about his background but once he shows what he can do with just a bow and an arrow they accept him. This is where the movie goes into real overdrive as it will turn out Rambo is the most lethal and brutal of them all. Stallone really pushes the R-rating and has no problem with severed limbs flying all over de screen. Rambo crushes larynxes, shoots people from up close to smithereens with an M60, decapitates people with a machete and a variety of other ways to kill people. It’s the Rambo finale of all Rambo finales and the final scenes are suitable for the character bringing him full circle when the end-credits run.