Last Blood is Darkest Blood
John Rambo has gone back to his family home in Arizona where he’s settled pretty nicely into a life filled with training horses and farming. He seems at peace, except for, you know, those pesky flashbacks and the insane system of home defense tunnels he’s built all underneath his property. He has an older Mexican lady and a younger Mexican girl living with him, both of whom he has sort of adopted and is watching out for. The younger girl, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal, looking like the younger sister of Salma Hayek) has gotten word about her deadbeat dad, who is living in Mexico. She wants to go see him and get an explanation as to why he left her and her mother (who has since died). Rambo warns her strongly against this. Her father was a real piece of shit, it seems, and Rambo knew him all too well. Gabrielle promises not to go, but she does anyway, and she gets kidnapped and put to work as a sex slave. Rambo finds out she’s gone and goes to get her. You can guess what happens next because this is a Rambo film, after all.
Only you can’t guess, not really. This film goes back to the dirty, dark roots of the series, feeling more like the first movie than any of the cartoons that followed. This is gritty stuff and does not flinch when it comes to showing the real world of the underground and what happens in real life to many, many women. This is 70’s noir dark, with an extra, extra helping of gore. This is a bloody film and does not bat an eye at the violence it portrays. It’s like Rambo was just sitting on all this darkness and now it’s unleashed and God help any man who gets in his way. And there’s no hesitancy on his part; his character drops right back into the abyss like putting on a favorite pair of jeans. To say the last act of the film is nothing but a slaughterhouse would be an understatement. One thing Rambo does is, he keeps it personal, making sure every character that deserves the pain gets it, and gets it in spades.
This is not a movie for everyone and most especially not those who are fans of Rambo II and III. This isn’t 80’s Rambo, with the mullet and tense, oiled muscles. This is Old Man Rambo, and he gives no quarter. The themes addressed in this film, from sex-slave workers, to drugs and Mexican cartels, are all-too real. The violence is never really glamorized; everything hurts. Yes, you cheer to see the bad guys get it (‘cause they certainly deserve it), but you also sort of weep to see Rambo go there again. He’s clearly insane and has lived a tortured, horrifying life. Even in retirement he can’t seem to escape the darkness.
This is not a feel-good film. It will leave you cold and empty, with no redemption in sight. Like I said before, this harkens back to 70’s filmmaking in its unrelenting and nihilistic tone. I for one loved it but mileage will vary. Just be aware, going in, that it isn’t another Expendables film. Stallone is pulling no punches here as he sends off a favorite character in a gyre of explosions, blood, gore, broken bones, and carved faces. This is Rambo 2019, and like our current world, there’s not a lot of hope to be had.
Three out of Four Stars