Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rambo (Part One)

With Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone accomplished something that I thought was impossible: he made a sequel to a beloved film that somehow apologized for all the other pointless sequels in that franchise and redeemed the character (and my opinion of old Sly’s talents as an actor and filmmaker). I went into Rocky Balboa with an extremely pessimistic disposition (as is my way), and was pleasantly surprised with the final results. I loved every minute of that movie.

And that’s why I was feeling cautiously optimistic when I popped Rambo into my DVD player this week. I didn’t expect a movie as good as Rocky Balboa, but I thought Stallone would be smart enough to tap into what made First Blood work and avoid the mindless action and dubious ideology of that film’s sequels. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only does Rambo suck – bad dialog, terrible story, wooden acting – it’s a horribly bleak film that offended me to no end.

I would have no problem with Rambo’s mindless violence and excessive gore if it wasn’t for the fact that Stallone wants it to mean something, and the message is this: violence is the only way to effectively bring about change.

I shouldn’t be surprised, since the ideology of the previous Rambo films was just as muddled and offensive as anything on display in Rambo. Let’s do a quick recap of the fucking ridiculous political notions found in these films.

First Blood: Ah, Stallone’s monologue at the end...

Why is Rambo a mentally unstable shell of a man? Was it the intense military training? The horrors he saw and committed in Vietnam? The alienation Rambo felt after coming home to a country not ready to deal with the young men who served in that war?

Nope. It’s because he couldn’t finish the job. If only Rambo could have been given the resources needed to win Vietnam, he’d be as right as rain – because nothing gives one emotional closure like killing a bunch of fools. Oh, and some hippies spat on Rambo when he came back from the war, which made Rambo cry. Am I the only one who watched Rambo’s end monologue and thought of the end of just about every Scooby-Doo episode, when, after being caught, Old Man Peabody revealed his whole dastardly plan. I can imagine Rambo saying, “I was going to bomb that country back to the stone age – and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling hippies.”

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