Draw your own conclusions as to whether or not Rambo: Last Blood’s (2019) title makes sense. Given the things that happen over the course of these five films, I gave up trying to figure them out after the first. That does not mean that I will avoid noting the inanities contained therein. Separately, I am not sure why this film was made, though that decision alone fits with the illogic of anything else in them. In Rambo (2008), the character finally leaves Southeast Asia, a mental and physical prison for him for decades. It would have been as fitting an end for the character as any other. But, no, they had to squeeze one last bit of money out of a brand name that people recognize with Rambo: Last Blood. Maybe the next one, which I hope never comes, will be Rambo: Dead? It is sad, and I do not mean solely the bald-faced pursuit of profit. The movie itself is sad. Sheesh. Can John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) not get a break? Forget, too, the fact that Stallone is in his seventies!
Rambo: Last Blood begins on the farm that our title character arrived on at the end of the last film. Because he is plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), his coping mechanism is to build tunnels beneath the ranch. A perfectly healthy outlet, right? Strangely, his friend Maria Beltran (Adriana Barraza) and her teenaged granddaughter Gabriela (Yvette Monreal) with whom he shares the house and land, are cool with his creepy hobby. In fact, Gabriela, being on the verge of graduating from high school and going off to college, thinks it a perfect place to have a party with her classmates. During the soiree, she receives a phone call from a family friend in Mexico, Jezel (Fenessa Pineda), that Gabriela’s long estranged father, Manuel (Marco de la O), has been located. Gabriela wants to go immediately to find him, but Rambo is against it, citing understandable safety concerns. He is also not keen on Manuel, who left Gabriela’s dying mother. Feigning meeting up with her friends, Gabriela goes against Rambo’s wishes and drives to Mexico. She finds Jezel’s apartment, and Jezel eventually gives Gabriela Manuel’s address. To Gabriela’s devastation, Manuel wants nothing to do with her, and says some more insulting things before slamming the door in her face. Jezel’s solution to Gabriela’s tears is go clubbing, you know, because that is the best way to deal with emotional trauma. The night gets even worse when a man to whom Gabriela is speaking slips a drug into her drink, and she is kidnapped. She is now being forced to become a prostitute by a Mexican cartel run by a pair of brothers, Hugo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and Victor Martinez (Óscar Jaenada), using some of their supply to keep the women in line. It is Jezel that alerts Maria, who tells Rambo. You can kind of guess what happens next. Rambo goes down to Mexico to look for Gabriela, first threatening Jezel, who is in on the kidnapping, for information. This takes him to the club where Jezel and Gabriela were the previous night, and Jezel points out the man to whom Gabriela had spoken. Beating him to within an inch of his life leads Rambo to the cartel headquarters, but for once Rambo is not prepared for the resistance with which he is met. He is jumped by several gang members and left for dead. Luckily, he had been spotted in the club by Mexican journalist Carmen Delgado (Paz Vega), who has been assembling information on the gang’s illegal activities. She brings the battered Rambo home and tends to his wounds. Coming to a few days later, Rambo gets the location of the brothel from Carmen. He proceeds to do more Rambo-like things, and retrieves a drugged-out Gabriela, who dies on the way back to their ranch. Hugo and Victor divine who is responsible, and because they have Gabriela’s information from when they kidnapped her, they have a pretty good idea where to go to find the person responsible. Rambo anticipates their arrival, and turns his tunnels into murder caves. This is apparently enough to send Maria packing, leaving Rambo alone to deal with them Martinez boys. Inevitably, Rambo kills them all, one-by-one, in brutal fashion using all the boobytraps he had set. In the process, he is seriously wounded. Thus, after a long day of killing bad guys, Rambo sits down on the porch of the farm house, his lands in shambles around him, and nurses a gunshot to the stomach. You might think him dead, but during the credits you see him ride off on a horse, so who knows? Who cares?
In the introduction to this review of Rambo: Last Blood, I described it as sad. It is sad that it was made in the first place, it is sad in how the story unfolds, and it has a sad ending. In fact, at one point Rambo says that he will be sad until the day he dies. This is said in response to Gabriela dying, which is probably the worst gut-punch of the film. Given the nature of the things that routinely happen to Rambo, it would be unsurprising to see Rambo meet his demise. Yet, why did Gabriela have to die? One might say that it serves as motivation for what he does to the Martinez brothers and their men, like he would not have done this anyway if they showed up looking for Gabriela alive. In summation, I guess Rambo can never leave his past behind, unlike what they tried to tell you in the previous film. I just pray that this is the last installment in the franchise.
There is not much to say about Rambo: Last Blood from a Catholic perspective. While watching any movie, I always note objects that pertain to the Faith, and I did see a Rosary at one point. That is it, and it does not make this a Christian film. There is so much sadness in the world, and films like this show people making all the wrong decisions, including the so-called protagonist. Between its dreariness and the violence, I would not recommend seeing it.