Stallone went out to make an old fashioned style action movie, with next to no CGI but using old school action sequences, stunts and explosions, it definitely delivers. With a running time of barely over 80 minutes, it flies by at a break neck pace heading towards a climatic battle that brilliantly and brutally goes on for almost ten solid minutes and I enjoy every second of it, cheering at the screen as each of the evil, nasty and short Burmese soldiers are blown to pieces or decapitated one by one, blood soaking the screen, this movie is not for the faint hearted, although once you get used to the idea of the extreme violence it increasingly becomes easier to digest.
Pulsating, mindless macho action aside, this movie sadly brings very little in the way of a plot or decent story development. Had Sly put a little more thought in it, it could have been quite an epic movie. Instead, its story is pretty much a mix of those of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III and it takes up only the first 20 minutes to half an hour of the movie, then is left on the river bank as Rambo takes his rag tag mercenaries up river to Burma to kick some ass! Another very noticeable flaw is Sly's inability to create any remotely rounded or interesting characters. A whole collection of flat two dimensional characters support the lead character as he comes to terms once again with who is, what he was born to be and what he is trained to do.
I think there is only one female lead with dialogue and I found she really had no meat to chew into in regards of a decent relationship with John Rambo. I know Stallone can write pretty deep and amazing characters, a re watch of the original 1977 Rocky establishes that fact instantly but here and pretty much so in Rocky Balboa too, we are given a one man show where all the attention is pretty much aimed at how one man feels, thinks and acts. As this movie is based on what life is really like for the people of Burma, its deeply upsetting torture scenes and village raids, of which Sly researched immensely to make it as realistic as possible are enough to leave you shocked and horrified at what is actually going on over there, also helping make this movie more relevant and meaningful than your average shoot-em-up flick. Composer Brian Tyler brings back Jerry Goldsmiths classic theme "It's a long road" from the original First blood movie and brings his own stirring and emotional score to help bring a heightened level of sympathy to many of of the documentary like scenes of torture and brutality of innocent villagers. Giving credit where credit is due, I think Sly did a brilliant job with directing this movie, where he lacked in story telling and character development he brings a very gritty and grainy rough feel to the screen and lots of hand held camera work make you feel part of the picture and at Rambo's side, if not, being the man himself, lots of rain and brooding colour drained shots really capture the tortured beauty of the earthy locations, I think it is a shame Stallone isn't as respected a director as he clearly deserves to be.
Stallone fully achieves what he sets out to do, bringing back to the big screen, a masculine, pumped up old school action movie with a message, bringing a serious issue to light but solves it in a way that is very satisfying to watch if totally impossible.
Looking stunning on Blu Ray with some great documentaries too.
RAMBO "Doing what he does best and proving he has still got it by the bucket load now in his 60s, if it is a fast paced ultra violent action fest you want to fill 80 minutes of your time, RAMBO, is your man!"