Rambo [Special Edition] [2 Discs] [Includes Digital Copy] product details page

Rambo [Special Edition] [2 Discs] [Includes Digital Copy]

Rambo [Special Edition] [2 Discs] [Includes Digital Copy]
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Reviewer:Jeremy Wheeler, Bloated beefcake brawn rules in Rambo, the fourth entry in the series, which picks up 20 years after audiences last saw Sylvester Stallone stretching his pumped-up musculature as the disillusioned action hero John Rambo. This time, the character is pulled into the war-torn country of Burma, where genocide runs rampant as Christian peasants are blown to bits by ******-addled soldiers just waiting to get their throats ripped out by the puffy workhorse that is Stallone. Something the film is not is schmaltzy, which is where one would think the aging screen star would skew the franchise after the saccharine-filled sentimentality of Rocky Balboa, released just one year before. No, this Rambo is a mean buffet of kinetic action filmmaking that dares the audience to sit up in their seats and root for gore-filled retribution served up Stallone-style. The question is -- are they ready for it?The film isn't an easy sell -- it's been quite some time since audiences were treated to this kind of brawny battlefield entertainment. It also doesn't help that many viewers will automatically come in with a cynical mindset regarding the star's ever-increasing age. One thing is certain, though: this is action cinema at its most grisly and excessively violent, with Stallone throwing caution to the wind with a piece of work that will shock and disturb many viewers, with others unquestionably whooping and hollering it up as they marvel at the over-the-top imagery and mega-machismo. And while there's much to dissect within the film, what's most interesting are the filmmaker's attempts to justify the extremity of the bloody proceedings. With exploitive newsreel footage starting out the film through each horrendous act of mass murder perpetrated by the Burmese troops, it's hard to come up with a group of real-world villains that is this ruthless and -- dare it be said -- deserving of Rambo's patented brand of justice, whose staples are on full display here. From the theme music to the inspired black-and-white flashbacks that recap much of the story from the previous films, there's little doubt that Rambo is back in full swing with this installment. While the introduction of John Rambo voice-over is a bit distracting (a curious stylistic touch Stallone carried over from Balboa), most of any disarming reaction to it by the audience disappears quickly as the character comes to terms with who he is and what he needs to do, much of which can be said of Stallone himself -- who, after years of plodding with this hack director or that, takes the reins and delivers a big blow to the carotid artery of film fans' brains with this two-act actioner. With much of the first half dedicated to missionaries and mercenaries getting in Rambo's face, the second is free to let Rambo do what he has to do -- and that's kill a lot of really bad dudes. Before one knows it, the film crescendos into a bloody burst of exploding limbs, bodies, and jungle greenery -- with Stallone at the helm, blowing away everything in his sights. With a coda at the end that hearkens back to First Blood, Stallone and Rambo have both come full circle in a way no one could have predicted. For good or ill, Rambo is back -- let the bullets fly and the casings fall where they may, for this flick proves that this is one action hero who isn't ready to hang up his headband just yet. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi