The title of ‘Last Blood’ is an immediate indication to moviegoers that the latest installment of one of cinemas’ best franchises is coming to an end. While it’s true that ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ is indeed a bookend and tribute to cap off the fictional life of Hollywood’s last action hero it seems like the real life actor who portrays him is just getting started.
The film deals with some hard hitting issues in a gritty and sometimes wildly violent way. However, it retains the charm and sentimentality that Sly Stallone fans have come to expect. It quickly picks up right where the previous one left off; with John Rambo at home. We get to see a glimpse of a man finally at peace and some backstory, through more than usual dialogue, on his current role as a surrogate father. While Rambo’s personal story is winding down, though, his niece’s is just picking up.
There is a good sense, through flashbacks, filters, and not-so-ambient music, that something dark is stirring in the film’s undercurrent. As the previews all indicate, the only family John Rambo has ever known is about to be tested and take on a battle that literally hits home for the first time. From there viewers embark on a wild and gut wrenching ride.
It seems Last Blood didn’t necessarily have to fall under the banner of the Rambo series’ but, to a large degree, that’s what makes it work. It’s simply not believable that an actor in the latter stages of his career like Sly could pull off some of the action that Last Blood delivers but, due to the history, you are able to believe that John Rambo actually could. As evidenced by more recent Stallone movies (Expendables, whose title oddly enough came from a famous line in one of the earlier Rambo movies) he himself probably didn’t think it was necessary to do everything alone. But in ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ the circle is complete. Once again John Rambo is pushed to the edge, lives for something, and is ultimately alone in the end.
It is astounding in trying to comprehend the magnitude of some of Sly’s earlier work and just how exactly they have impacted popular culture; one can utter a single line or phrase from almost any of his movies and people immediately get the reference. And to Last Blood’s credit there are as many throwback moments as there are gruesome depictions and heartfelt moments. The movie could have been a stand alone action film but somewhere, somehow, Stallone took a leap of faith and have given the fans closure, new fans a solid movie to watch, and once again shown Hollywood that characters matter. Rambo: Last Blood also challenges what can or can’t be shown on screen to audiences by making a movie like ‘John Wick’ seem tame.
As a producer, actor, and director Stallone could arguably be considered a modern day John Wayne. Much like Wayne did, he thrives on cinematic drama and did all of his own stunts the majority of his career. He’s been in every sort of conflict imaginable, though not really, and sometimes can’t be distinguished from his on screen persona. Stallone has also outlasted his peers and is the only actor to achieve certain accolades across nearly five decades and counting.
To recap: Last Blood is a gritty, gruesome, heartwarming, suspenseful, hard to deal with, classic action film that transcends what it all means to actually see the light of day in 2019. Fans old and new will enjoy but only if you are a fan of both the series and Sylvester Stallone the actor.
No, Rambo: Last Blood isn’t the best film in the series but it’s not the worst either. And yes, Sly is back to show moviegoers that he is the best actor in the action genre. Period.