Sylvester Stallone is back for one last go-round as John Rambo. It has to be, it’s right there in the title! Once again Stallone involves himself in the film’s script, crafting a story that shows that Rambo, no matter the age, is still the same man he has always been, but he’s just better at keeping a lid on it.
Until it’s time to let it loose.
And boy, does it get let loose.
A the end of the previous film Rambo has finally come home. The film picks up some years after that, he’s a surrogate father to his sister’s daughter, Gabriela (Yvette Monreal). Her father left her and her mother, returning home to Mexico, making it clear that he wanted nothing to do with them. He was a dirtbag, abusive, and Rambo never cared for him.
But the young girl wants to understand why, and with the help of a questionable friend, tracks him down. So against John’s wishes, she goes south of the border, and finds herself in some serious trouble, abducted, drugged, and pushed into the sex trade by human traffickers.
When she doesn’t return home, Rambo goes in search of her and comes up against a brutal and violent gang that cares nothing for those they hurt, threatening violence and death. They keep a collection of women locked up, drugged up, and under threat of constant violence and abuse.
Rambo affects a rescue, but these people aren’t just going to forget his interference, and John is going to have to marshal his strength, and his terrifying skills into one last mission. One of vengeance.
And that final battle, which takes a while to come around (which is weird because the film is just shy of an hour and a half in length) is bloody, grisly, and the baddies get everything they deserve.
I was a little anxious about a fifth film in this series, but it’s a solid entry… it could have been longer, and I really enjoy the way establishes the parental relationship between Rambo and Gabriela. He finally seems to have garnered a bit of peace for himself and for the first time that we’ve seen, he’s comfortable with who he is. He’s almost like a new person.
And maybe he is a new person. That could explain why the scar that was previously high up on his left cheek is no longer there. And that’s weird because the production has made sure it’s on Rambo’s face in the previous two films, having received it in the second movie.
I enjoyed this one, I didn’t love it like the previous entry, but it’s still better than part III. It’s wild the enduring appeal this character has had, and that he’s been welcomed back to the screen so many times, and over the span of four decades. Not bad.