I went to see the new Rambo movie. It was pretty good! Stallone is powerful as Rambo. He’s like Frankenstien or King Kong, a monster that is charmed by a beautiful woman. And for me the power of the film lies in that archetype. The structure of the film is sort of unique. It starts off normally, (actually it starts with documentary footage of dead bodies, my least favorite part of the movie) the predictable story kicks in but Stallone has reduced Rambo to a pure icon, almost like the stenciled logo on the poster. He hardly speaks, he just is. The way a movie hero should be. Like Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. And in spite of his taciturn behaviour (or maybe because of it) you can’t help but feel for this poor guy, turned into a killing machine by a country that threw him on the garbage heap once his usefulness was finished.
And when a self sacrificing woman sparks a glimmer of empathy from this monster, you can’t help but be moved. The story precedes as expected with the missionaries being captured and Rambo having to rescue them. This is where the mercenaries come into the picture. And this is why I saw the movie. My friend Jake La Botz plays Tombstone, a young mercenary. He gets to sing an original song of his own composition as they travel up river on Rambo’s boat. By the way Jake plays Eddie in my film One Night with You and does it amazingly well.
But back to Rambo. Once they get the missionaries out of the prison camp, the film drops all story elements and becomes pure iconography. There is almost no dialog. It’s pure action, pure images and sounds. Even the end where you’d expect some sappy dialog is shorthanded to looks and monumental close ups of Rambo. And sort of like Hitcock’s trick in North By Northwest where Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are hanging off Mount Rushmore cut to them making out on a speeding train, Rambo is standing on a Burmese riverbank surrounded by hundreds of dead soldiers, the aftermath of a savage battle, cut to him walking along a road in Arizona, the mailbox says R. Rambo, he’s home after all that time, he walks onto a farm ,complete with green grass, horses, mountains clouds. I’m reminded of Sterling Hayden’s return to his Kentucky farm at the end of The Asphalt Jungle. He returns to his home so he can die. There’s a cool nightmare featuring old clips from the other Rambo films that feels like Stallone is looking back on his life, there’s also a great scene of Rambo forging a machete, Stallone looks like Hephasteus , the blacksmith of the Gods, hammering a chunk of glowing metal. Here’s a video of Jake on his Tattoo across America Tour.