The saga began in 1982 with a Vietnam War veteran traveling to small town America in search of his old army buddy. Little did they know then, that “First Blood” was way beyond dealing issues of mercenaries . This was destined to spawn an entire explosive popcorn franchise, much like the Italian Boxer Balboa. Rambo became a one-man army, totally loaded and well-equipped to wipe out regiments and tyrant armies with his signature arrow shoots and explosives. It’s been 20 years since John Rambo showered his bullets in Afghanistan. But 2008’s “Rambo” brings in a hint of old-age, bigger muscles, the same killing stare, even lesser dialogues, the story of a nation ripped by civil war, insanely atrocious rulers, the local rebels and of course, more boom and bam. And yes, I loved it. This is Hollywood extreme action packed to the utmost density with body counts increasing, heads being exploded by snipers and guts being cut through.
Rambo returns to the screen as a snake trapper, a river guide and a monosyllabic utterer in Northern Thailand. He is being approached by a group of missionaries to lead them to the Burmese territory; he refuses initially, only to give in to Sara’s appeal and takes up the mission. Unfortunately, the missionaries fall prey to the military soon after they reach the village. Rambo comes to know about it and agrees to escort a group of other mercenaries to the village and decides on taking up the rescue mission in his own hands. Needless to say, what we say next is squishing and splashing blood on the muddy fields, and some of the most disturbingly violent, yet brilliant scenes. Need any more reason to LOVE this movie. I think I can give you two. The new or rather, older Rambo has gone pretty weary and more cynical than his last venture, and Stallone makes you believe in the character’s ageing as well, much like the ageing Balboa. Yeah, the script is at times corny, with clichéd dialogues thrown everywhere, and at times laugh out loud internet humor. But it isn’t dumb either. The thing is, you know what you expect from a Rambo film, and it is what you get.
The movie however revolves around the civil war situation in Burma. It opens with disturbing documentary footage of beheaded villagers, burnt houses, inhuman tortures- which essentially implies the “truth” and relevance of the context of the movie. But this again puts me in a fix when it comes to enjoying the scenes that follow. On one hand, I feel the uselessness and helplessness of war and violence, when I see families crying, children being shot in the chest and fields barren. But again, on the other hand, I can’t stop applauding and get enthralled when Rambo shoots his arrow through a soldiers head. I ask myself, is violence necessary at times? WTF? Am I taking a Rambo movie too seriously? And so, all that message and eventual dilemma ringing in my head, gets lost in the gloss and glamour of humans turning into red mist. The thing is most people would hardly realize or get offended by Rambo or the context. The leader of the Burmese army is a gay pedophile; the missionary himself gives into violence; and Burma is a country torn by war. But then, nobody expects complexity or a message in a Rambo movie. Rambo is a huge symbol of onscreen rampant carnage, and he makes me happy when he gets soaked in blood.
Stallone at 60 plus, is the papa of all action heroes. He can make Vin Diesel’s XXX turn into a weepy whiner and make Jason Bourne feel like a sidekick at best. With Rambo he tries to make that statement about Burma, but he doesn’t bore us at all with it. Yes, a new addition this time; Rambo acts in a team, but doesn’t forget to include the “Man behind the Jeep-Raining Bullet Fire” scene. He looks so much like a furious Zeus raining thunder bolts. Makes me jump on my seat every single time he does that. For those not into gore or hardcore action, this might be a little tough for your eyes. Coz the climax is a long display of limbs flying, heads rolling, chests exploding and you make up the rest. No sugarcoating whatsoever. Rambo is brutally beautiful and I came out of the hall, happy and smiling when the Hero saved the day, well not many survived though. Of course the Lady did. Bang Bang Bang Squisssh…Rambo gets a 3.5 on 5. Go Home!!