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September 30, 2019

Rambo: Last Blood (2019) --- "They Drew First Blood. He Will Draw Last."


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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     It’s been 11 years since we last saw Vietnam War veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) return to his family ranch in Bowie, Arizona after turning a brutal Burmese regime into tomato paste. He still struggles with the violence of his past and tries to find peace as he tends to his horses and adoptive family, which includes the ranch caretaker Maria (Adriana Barraza) and her granddaughter Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). Now a teenager and heading off to college soon, Gabrielle naively ventures into Mexico to find the birth father that abandoned her when she was a little girl. However, she gets kidnapped by the Martinez cartel, led by brothers Hugo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and Victor (Oscar Jaenada), and it is up to Rambo to go on a bloody and personal quest to rescue his niece and get revenge.
     Directed by Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo), and written by Sylvester Stallone (Creed II), Matthew Cirulnick (Absentia), and  Dan Gordon (Let There Be Light), Rambo: Last Blood (2019) is the last installment of the Rambo series and it is almost like a love letter to the fans; it’s an epilogue to an incredible story. This time Rambo is not the hero or an ordinary guy living a sheltered life but rather he is the victim of his own nightmares and suppressed. The only thing that has kept him going, kept the monsters at bay, is his adoptive family, specifically his niece who is the daughter he never had and his only chance to teach moral values and life lessons to. So when her life is in danger we get to see him unleash hell on those who hurt the ones he loves.
     The action sequences are very well choreographed and the final battle will make anyone cringe at how much more brutal Rambo has gotten. There is chopping, stabbing, shooting, explosions, immolating, and dismemberment, all of which come together to create a violent and brutal final act that is one of the best in the series. And considering that it is the final installment, this is an achievement - especially since most final installments tend to be lackluster and below expectations.
     The cast performances are great. As always Sylvester Stallone does a fantastic job as Rambo but this time he does an even better job because now he has to portray an aged Rambo who seems to be on the cusp of finding peace only to have that peace disrupted by an untimely incident. As one of the only actors to maintain 2 film franchise - Rocky and Rambo - it’s no wonder why he is so talented. The villains played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Life Itself) and Oscar Jaenada (The Shallows, Chaos Walking) do an incredible job in being the film’s antagonist. They really know how to take two easily two-dimensional roles and turn them into convincing bad guys that play as much a part in carrying the story as Rambo does. Adriana Barraza (Babel, Cake) and Yvette Monreal (Stargirl) are minor characters with limited screen time but when they are on screen they manage to leave a lasting emotional impression. 
     Overall, Rambo: Last Blood (2019) is the final installment in the franchise and it is an action-packed and violent epilogue that brings the franchise to a somewhat complete end. This is due to the story lacking a happy ending but when you think about it, none of the other Rambo’s managed to achieve that either. The cast performances were solid throughout, especially the villains who helped add to the story’s arc. All in all, if you are a fan of the series or perhaps have only ever seen the first film, then I highly recommend that you check out this film. Not only does this film exceeded my expectations but it is also my favorite in the series.
Final Vote --- 9 of 10 stars

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The Informer (2020)
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Rambo: First Blood (1982)
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Rambo (2008)
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

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