It’s been a decade since Burma and John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) now works and lives on a horse ranch in Arizona alongside his friend Maria Beltran (Adriana Barraza) and her granddaughter, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). Rambo has been like a father to Gabrielle but now that she is due to leave for university, Gabrielle wants to learn more about her birth father, so against the advice of her elders, she goes to Mexico to find him. There, she is abducted and Rambo must go and find her.
It’s the final outing for John Rambo, a character we have followed across five films that date as far back as 1982. Vietnam is a long way away now but some of the trauma of war still haunts our hero, as is revealed in flashbacks throughout ‘Last Blood’. Unlike before though, Rambo has a home and family which he’ll defend to the end. In that way, ‘Last Blood’ offers a fitting albeit lacklustre conclusion to his story.
In terms of narrative, Liam Neeson’s ‘Taken’ obviously comes to mind as a point of comparison, but so too does ‘Home Alone’ (if it had an R rating) as the final act involves Rambo setting up his ranch as a death trap for the bad guys. The Arizona/Mexico settings underwhelm compared to the forest and jungle backdrops that characterised the stronger chapters in the series – namely ‘First Blood’ (by far the best of the series), ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ and 2008’s ‘Rambo’ – and in terms of quality, ‘Last Blood’ falls somewhere between the latter and ‘Rambo III’, so at least it’s not the worst in the series.
Regarding the action and violence, it certainly provides all the gruesome exterminations you could want in a Rambo movie and at different points in the film, the titular character pulls not one but two different body parts out of characters. There’s also a nice tribute to the franchise in the credits, integration of the Rambo theme music throughout, and a surprisingly emotional finale that hits you not only in the closing shots but at the end of act II as well. In terms of performance, Sly is effortless and still very much a badass as he commits to this last hurrah while Yvette Monreal impresses as Gabrielle.
‘Last Blood’ doesn’t have quite the western tones that were promised by early images released for the movie but fans should be satisfied that this is as far as Rambo will go, and no further (Unless they reboot it, which at the rate the industry is going, could very well happen). If you’re unfamiliar with the series though, you’ll find this to be a standard, slightly dull action movie which is much bloodier than your average flick. Again, this is Rambo.