Rambo: Last Blood

A disappointing and graphic end to the series

Sometimes, while watching ​Rambo: Last Blood – ​maybe it’s when our hero uses his bare hands to tear the still-beating heart out of a Mexican’s chest​ – ​you’ll ​ponder that it didn’t have to end this way.

Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo, first an unappreciated Vietnam vet, then a one-man army, always fought on his own terms. Even when he rolled with the ​"gallant people of Afghanistan"" (as 1988’s​‘​Rambo III‘​ was dedicated), he was never anyone’s mouthpiece.

Now, Stallone might as well be wearing a MAGA cap. The new film’s script, partly credited to its star, is a breathtaking compendium of Trumpian talking points: Rambo, these days a humble Arizona rancher with an extensive weapon collection, does battle with an invading horde of drug dealers who make the thugs from Sicario look like a mild nuisance.

Oh, right­​ – ​they’re also responsible for abducting Rambo’s college-bound niece, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal).

Just when the movie’s symbology couldn’t get more obvious, the camera lingers on that border wall: a porous defence, all the better for Rambo to lure his enemies onto his home turf for a Doors-scored climax of ridiculously over-the-top gore.

Is there any satisfaction in seeing the icon back in action?

Director Adrian Grunberg (​Get the Gringo​) stages the violence clumsily, often botching the kill moments with frenetic cutaways.

None of the care that Stallone imparted to his Rocky reboots –​ Rocky Balboa​ (which he directed)​, ​Creed​ and ​Creed II​ (or produced) – is in evidence. It’s as if he is admitting that the ​Rambo​ movies were always trash.

He may not be the best custodian of his own legacy. Graying, splotchy and barely intelligible, Stallone turns in a self-negating performance, just as ugly on the inside.​

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