Rambo Directed by Sylvester Stallone. 93 minutes. Opens Friday (January 25). Rating: NNN
Sylvester Stallone earns his red badge of carnage to go along with his purple heart, er, prose with this bloody resurrection of the 80s action icon.
Rambo field strips the plot from First Blood Part II, returning the disgruntled Vietnam vet to the jungles of Southeast Asia to deliver an Old Testament wrath-of-god-style beat down on some sadistic Burmese soldiers holding a bunch of bible-thumping missionaries captive. Hot-button political context aside, it's as simple as that. There's no second act. Not even a subplot to distract you. The late Richard Crenna's Col. Trautman, the Dr. Frankenstein to Stallone's monster, is sorely missed.
Instead, we get the sort of overblown, uncompromising and distinctly R-rated actioner that makes you wonder what you ever saw in the pony-tailed pansy Steven Seagal. Limbs fly, heads roll and bodies are blown to bits. The final 20 minutes play out like the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, as Stallone finds new and creative ways to reduce the human body to a fine red mist. This is not the cartoonish violence of his other films - no emerging from muddy walls to impale a Commie bastard or driving a tank into a low-flying helicopter. Like the character, it is brutal spectacle. Call it war porn.
And it gets the blood pumping. Stallone, now 61, looks like some 'roid-fuelled Grinch whose body is three times the size it was in the original First Blood, although he never once takes his shirt off. This Rambo has nothing to prove to anyone, and neither does Stallone, who already showed he can still pack a knockout punch with last year's Rocky Balboa. Nostalgia factor aside, Rambo is a helluva lot of fun.
Bring on Cobra 2 or Over the Top 2: Even More Over The Top.