What is the cost to this man built for war by a country that quickly forgot him? What is our culpability in lionizing violence, revenge, cruelty? Is it just part of us? If so, what is our responsibility when we tell stories that utilize it for entertainment value? Stallone doesn’t seem content to make violent movies without a statement attached, and the result is a film where America’s ’80s action hero submits to the nihilistic realization that, in the end, we’re only one step away from being our worst selves. Through his fall from grace, Stallone pleads to the audience, heart in hands, that embracing darkness won’t amount to anything but broken dreams, a pile of bodies and an endless long night of the soul.
I wrote this back in September when Rambo: Last Blood hit screens. It subsequently flopped. I stand by that interpretation of the film although clearly there were others who saw less in Sylvester Stallone’s steroid-addled swan song. You can now own the film on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and digital. The home-video releases include a few featurettes but not much else in the way of commentaries or behind-the-scenes tidbits. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is nice. But frankly ,the movie only has one bombastic sequence, so it’s not half as cool as, say, 2008’s Rambo.
As one of the few fans of Last Blood, I’ll emphasize that the movie is better watched in the context of the series itself. My first watch-through of First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Rambo III in sequential order (and my half-dozenth rewatch of Rambo) created a context with which to see Last Blood as a mournful statement on an aged archetype. Maybe watching it raw doesn’t provide the same benefit. All that being said: 2019 had a few pretty good exploitation dramas, and this is definitely among the best of them.