Bloody hell.

Released in 2008, certified UK-18. Reviewed on 30 Apr 2008 by Scott Morris
Rambo image

Rambo, then. Presumably the final instalment in one of the more erratically named action series sees a now rather grizzled veteran badass John Rambo catching snakes in Thailand. Well, a guy's got to make a living. Presently, a gaggle of goody-two-shoes God-bothers trying to get into Burma to deliver aid to the population being genocididerated by unpleasant government troops show up trying to hire Rambo's boat.

In terms of 'great ideas', 'going to Burma' is right up there with 'hammering nails into our eyes', with equally unpleasant consequences. After a short period of telling them to go home, Rambo eventually agrees to ship them down river, but wouldn't you know it, about half an hour after they're out of his sight they're captured by the baddies. Oh noes!

The pastor of the do-good gang soon shows up after hatching the not-entirely Christian plan of hiring a bunch of mercenaries including a somewhat out of place looking Matthew Marsden and, perhaps disconcertingly to British viewers of a certain ilk, the bloke who played the warden in the last series of Red Dwarf. It's back off doon the watter (yes, I am Scottish, how could you tell?) and while the multicultural gang of guns for hire might not particularly want Rambo tagging along, that's hardly going to stop Johnny now, is it?

Rambo image

That, such as it is, pretty much wraps up the plot. The remaining hour is devoted to busting the hostages out of the Army's compound and escaping, in the process ripping as many people clean in half with ludicrously overpowered high calibre weaponry and similarly ludicrously overpowered homebrew machetes. Heads will quite literally roll, and as those wise prophets Drowning Pool predicted the bodies will hit the floor, although the normal complement of limbs may no longer be attached. Oooh, shooty shooty bang bangs!

Quite what today's youngsters will make of this is difficult to say, but for those of us raised on a diet of Gubernator Schwarzenegger and, of course, Stallone's own action escapades I suspect this feels rather like the logical conclusion of the muscle-bound one man killing machine sub-genre. Indeed, it's often as though the script for Rambo has been stitched together from elements cut out of Commando for being too exceedingly unbelievable. You know what? It's a lot of fun, once the bullets start a'flyin'.

It's extraordinarily juvenile and chock full of enough testosterone to leave one in danger of growing an extra testicle while watching it, but I'm rather assuming that anyone in Rambo's potential audience is aware of this already so there's little point for criticising this for, say having a depth almost invisible to the naked eye and dialogue that's more of a gruff series of gruffly delivered gruff homilies than anything resembling normal speech patterns.

Rambo image

But then, John Rambo is far from being a normal man. John Rambo is a man who picks up his enemies by the neck then rips their throat out with his bare hands. John Rambo goes directly through his enemies with ruthless efficiency and as someone who has been bemoaning precisely the lack of action film that doesn't treat the grim business of murder as PG-13 suitable material then I've really got no reason at all not to welcome Rambo into my heart with a song and a small dance.

That said, catch me in a curmudgeonly mood and I'll have to admit it's a little too ridiculous for its own good. But dammit, I like ridiculous. So, at least as far as I'm concerned that's both this and the Rocky revival pulled off against all likelihood. What's next? Stop Or My Mom Will Continue To Shoot? Yargle.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks, for sheer exhuberance alone. Dakka dakka dakka.

Sylvester Stallone
Cast list:
Sylvester Stallone (John Rambo)
Julie Benz (Sarah)
Matthew Marsden (School Boy)
Graham McTavish (Lewis)
Shaliew Manrungbun (Snake Hunter #1)