Wait until you can stream it…

Rambo: Last Blood is an attempt to update a 1980s action icon for the 2010s. To do this, it borrows heavily from other movies of this decade: the nightclubs and rooftop settings of John Wick, the last stand sequence from Skyfall and the plot of Taken. Unfortunately, in the updating process, the xenophobia of Trump’s America has also found its place in the latest Rambo film. Further, neither the well-written plot, nor Stallone’s mature and moving performance from Creed, find their way into this unpleasant sequel, meaning it has no saving graces.

The portrayal of Mexicans in this film is unsettling, particularly in the current political climate. The whole film comes across as a disturbing Trumpian revenge fantasy, as the heroic American slaughters Mexicans who lie, betray, and commit crimes. Rambo’s niece has a Mexican dead beat father. Of course she does. This film would have you believe there are no good qualities to the people of Mexico. The xenophobia makes this uncomfortable viewing.

The dead beat father sub plot does not even have significance to the plot nor any of the characters; it is merely included as a set up to get Rambo’s niece alone in Mexico. It is clear that the screenplay, co-written by Sylvester Stallone, started off as “Rambo meets Taken” pitch. The rest of the plot is lazily put together in order to reach this point. Paz Vega plays a character who’s sole purpose is to point Rambo in the right direction. The niece wants to show her friends the “tunnels”- is she sixteen or six? The only reason for this scene is to set up the fact Rambo has tunnels under his ranch. Rambo’s mistrust of strangers and foreigners is lazily suggested through clunky flashbacks that do not smoothly integrate themselves into the plot. The plot of this film is essentially a poorly structured set up for a rip off of Taken.

And a rip off of Skyfall too. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) ends up having to defend his ranch from an army, using rigged traps and a lacklustre fighting style. (The action is completely uninspired.) This conclusion would not be so bad if Stallone offered a likeable performance. He injected humanity and warmth in his portrayal of Rocky in Creed. None of that is to be found here. His only emotions are xenophobic fury and revenge. The relationship with the niece could have been Rambo’s saving grace, helping us to care about him during the final battle at the ranch. Without giving anything away, the one strand helping us root for Rambo is taken away. Instead, we are given corny one liners that are poorly delivered, in a finale that copies Skyfall poorly.

The fifth instalment of this franchise really should not have been released. Its politics are xenophobic and outdated. It is a step back in terms of Stallone’s acting career. The plot is a very thin thread trying to link cool plot points ripped off from better movies, from John Wick to Skyfall. Hopefully the subtitle, “Last Blood”, is a promise Stallone can keep.

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