He’s in his 70s now. He talks a little slower. He moves a little stiffly. He wakes up every morning and takes a hundred different pills. He says that he has finally given up his anger but, deep down, he’s still the same Rambo who blew up the town of Hope, Washington before becoming an international problem solver. He still likes to dig underground tunnels and make weapons. When he’s not doing that, he and Maria Beltran (Adriana Barraza) run his father’s old horse ranch in Arizona.
When Maria’s granddaughter, Gabriela (Yvette Monreal), sneaks down into Mexico to search for her biological father, Rambo goes after her. When he discovers that Gabriela has been kidnapped and drugged by a Mexican cartel, Rambo announces that he’s going to rescue her and get revenge, even if it means blowing up the entire southwest to do it.
There’s a scene in Last Blood where Rambo literally rips a man’s heart out of his chest and holds it in front of his face while he dies. That’s pretty cool and doubly impressive when you consider that Rambo’s not that young anymore. I’m 40 years younger than Rambo and I can’t do that. Other than that, though, Last Blood is a disappointment. The cartel makes for a forgettable group of villains and too much of the plot depends on otherwise intelligent people suddenly doing something stupid. The Rambo films have never been known for their carefully constructed storylines but, even by the standards of the previous films in the series, Last Blood feels as if it was hastily slapped together.
The main problem, though, is that John Rambo doesn’t feel like Rambo. There are references to the time that Rambo spent in Vietnam and Rambo does use several VC-style booby traps to take out most of his enemies but otherwise, Sylvester Stallone might as well have just been playing John Smith. I spent the whole movie waiting for Rambo to at least say something along the lines of, “A friend of mine from Nam — his name was Sam Trautman — taught me this,” but instead, the previous Rambo films go largely unacknowledged until the end credits, during which we see some scenes from our hero’s past adventures. If you’re going to make a Rambo film, it should feature a story that could only happen to Rambo and a problem that only he can solve. Last Blood felt like it had more in common with Taken than Rambo.
Rambo’s had a good run but, on the basis of Last Blood, I think it may be time to let the character enjoy his retirement in peace. He’s earned it.