Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Rambo

As a continuation of my recent purge into the world of extreme action films, I thought that it would only be good justice to catch up on the movie which critics are calling "the most violent movie of the year." Truth be told, it wouldn't be far off on the moniker "most violent movie of all time." This is a movie which has been criticised and slandered all year round, to the point were Odeon Cinemas refused to play the film because of it's extreme levels of gore and wanton destruction. However, I convinced myself that I could past these because it is a Rambo movie, and they are good popcorn fun to watch, and personally I feel that Sylvester Stallone is an under-rated artist in the world of film. Anyway, plot goes that Rambo is living in Thailand, and makes his money via catching snakes and transporting people in his boat. Then, a bunch of Christian missionaries ask him to go into Burma, and after initially refusing, he inevitably ends up where mayhem calls. Now, I don't know what I can really say about the film, but it is essentially an excuse to bring Rambo back into action in the jungle. And you know what, for what it is, it doesn't do too badly. For starters, I know, I like Stallone, but once again he plays Rambo with the same degree of integrity as he does with his other half, Rocky Balboa. Rambo is still an angry, confused and betrayed man who knows nothing in the world but violence. As he says himself, "killing is the only thing I was ever good at." This is a man who is a merciless killing machine, yet we can't help but sympathise with him. My only criticism of Stallone's performance in this movie is the fact that in some scenes of dialogue, he damn near incomprehensible, with a voice that is comparable to that of Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight. Also, what I must say is that despite being Stallone's first attempt at directing a Rambo movie, he does the job. Personally, I feel that Stallone has all the opportunity in the world to direct action, for the action sequences, as brutal as they are, are certainly not boring. Also, with regards to the message that the film is attempting to get across, in that there are horrific atrocities like this in Burma that happen all the time and no one hears about it. The message comes across well, in that it certainly does highlight the atrocities, but similarly in the way that Redacted was an anti-war propaganda film, this is the same, except that it is done better. Truth be told, as enjoyable as the film is at times, there is certainly much to be derided about it. For example, besides Rambo himself, every other character is more or less superficial, and more or less just serves as an excuse for Rambo to talk rather than completely internalise his quite proficient rage. The missionary characters are poor, as are the mercenaries, and why in God's name is there no conflict in the slightest between the hired killers and the missionaries. I mean, hello. The two extremes. This is when world's collide. Also, where does Rambo sit in all this? Is he in the middle? Is he the missionary with a machete? Is he a creation of the American war machine? Or is he simply a wild card? Anyway, my point is that so much is left out in the open and unadressed that it is simply unavioidable and a general annoyance. Also, as mentioned, all characters besides Rambo are superficial. The script, which was also written by Stallone, does nothing to help the situation. Stallone is very much the auteur, and took it upon himself to do rewrites mid-filming, which was just completely the wrong idea, and the resulting film is the perfect example of this. The dialogue is poor, predictable and rather simplistic, unfortunate for Stallone who always comes across as intelligent man and always talks a great game. Also, while being obviously able to direct action, he cannot direct the dialogue scenes. They are disjointed and poorly edited. The main reason it worked with Rocky Balboa is because he knows that character like the back of his hand and had directed three previous Rocky films. He has never directed a Rambo film, and I am sure in the sequels, if he decides to remain as director, he will get better with experience. However, that first half-an-hour before Rambo gets involved in the action are so dire and poor that I serious considered not watching it through to it's finish. However, it must be said, that in the end, it's worth watching. It is a gory, ultra-violent action flick in all the good ways possible, and actually ends up being original in adding some of it's own elements to the genre. Like Indiana Jone and Die Hard 4.0, this is the Rambo character updated to the modern, blockbuster era and is worth your time.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.3/10

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