Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden
Mention the name Stallone and you'll immediately associate him with two well known movie icons. One is the boxer Rocky Balboa, the other is Vietnam war veteran John Rambo, whom Stallone has played in 3 films in the past.
In those films, Rambo was portrayed as a killing machine, being the best there is at destroying his enemies. But at the same time, Rambo is still a man underneath. A man who has grown disillusioned by the violence, yet he can't run from it forever. I am personally a big fan of this character, despite the larger than life way Stallone presents him on screen.
In the fourth and latest film, we head to Burma. Rambo is now living in northern Thailand, catching snakes and fish for the local villagers. He's finally at peace, not concerning himself with any war. One day, a small group of missionaries led by Michael (Paul Schulze) and Sarah (Julie Benz) come to meet him. They ask him to take them into Burma in order for them to deliver food and aid to the Karen people, who have been suffering at the hands of Burmese soldiers in a 60 year old civil war. At first, Rambo refuses, convinced that the group will only get themselves killed. But Sarah manages to persuade him to take them there.
Rambo successfully brings them to their destination and heads home. But as fate would have it, the Burmese soldiers ambush the Karen village and take the group hostage. The group's friends hire a band of mercenaries and ask Rambo to take them back there on a rescue mission. This is where the man himself has to get his hands dirty and take action.
Sylvester Stallone has outdone himself this time, by wearing three hats as actor, writer and director. I am happy to say that he succeeds on all 3 fronts. He plays Rambo as the tough guy who has to once again do what he does best to save innocent people. As the reluctant hero who wishes he could put his violent past behind him, Stallone scores with his words and facial expressions. As the action hero, the 61 year old actor can certainly still kick ass and take names.
Stallone also shines as director of the film. He knows what his audience wants i.e. pure unadulterated action. He piles it on in spades, and keeps the dialogue and run time short, so as not to bore us with unnecessary details. There's also plenty of unflinching violence and blood here, which isn't out of place when you think about it. Perhaps some may say that there is more violence here than the past 3 Rambo films combined, but it is well meant. Stallone had said he wanted to portray the brutality of the civil war in Burma convincingly, so that the audience can see the war as it really is. So even though the Burmese soldiers end up looking like stereotype evil men, they do a hell of a job being the meanest scum of the earth, thereby making it easier for us to watch them meet their doom in the most vile manner.
If you're a Rambo fan, go watch this. If you love action without too much drama, watch this too. It's just great stuff. As a fan, I'd say it's a fitting way to end the Rambo series. Long live Stallone. (4/5)