It started in 1982 with a man. A solitary loner of a man who drifted from place to place, trying to find inner peace and exorcise his personal demons. These demons were left over from his days serving his nation valiantly in a war that no one wanted to remember.
But those petty small-town cops just had to push it. He didn’t start it; they drew First Blood…and thusly the legend of John Rambo was born, and Sylvester Stallone’s bad acting, bad dialogue, and melodramatic proselytizing created a franchise that simply refuses to die. To quote the new film’s trailer: Old heroes never die; they just reload.
First Blood served to usher in all the big 80’s action films about highly-trained former commandos who, deep down, are sensitive guys forced by ne’r-do-wells into utilizing their deadly skills to lay the smack down and put the Bad Guys in the hurt locker, using everything from toothpicks to rocket launchers and guns that never run out of ammo, seldom getting more than a shaving nick in the process.
After John Rambo torched the forests of Washington, defeating the National Guard and the entire local constabulary, he ended up in the clink but gets sprung by his old commander, Colonel Trautman. It seems the good Colonel has an offer that John can’t refuse, which is to go back to Vietnam and find evidence of POW/MIA’s still alive in-country. Of course, Rambo gets captured, resists torture, escapes, liberates to camp’s prisoners, and flies a surplus Huey helicopter full of the aforementioned liberated prisoners to the base camp, and confronts the CIA scumbag who left Rambo in The ‘Nam , all before dinner time. The confrontation with the CIA guy culminates in Rambo firing an M-60 machine gun with one hand, ripping off an entire hundred-round belt of ammo at all the radio equipment in the control center while issuing a guttural grunting yell. Good times…
After receiving a Presidential pardon, Rambo ventured off to find his inner peace in Zenville, Thailand, living in a monastery and making ends meet by participating in prize bouts of Thai stick-fighting. Enter Trautman again, asking his old protégé to accompany him to Afghanistan to drop off some Stinger missiles for the locals to use in killing Soviet occupiers. Rambo declines, and his mentor is captured. Of course, Rambo travels to rescue him, using this amazing compound bow with exploding arrows to destroy most of the Red Army, which of course is entirely plausible in Reagan-era propagandist fiction.
Cue the music. It’s 20 years later, and Rambo is back. Still living in the back woods of Thailand, Rambo comes out of retirement to rescue foreign aid workers caught up in the 60-year old civil war in Burma, a war as old as Rambo himself, since Sylvester Stallone is almost 62. Through the miracle of hair dye and HGH, he doesn’t look a day over 50. And, as usual and in a most predictable fashion, Rambo saves the day while shooting exploding arrows and mowing down the Forces of Evil with belt after belt of machinegun ammo.
Memorable crappy Rambo dialogue clichés:
“God didn't make Rambo. I made him.”—Trautman
“I don't think you understand. I didn't come to rescue Rambo from you. I came here to rescue you from him.”—Trautman
“There are no friendly civilians!”—Rambo
“When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing.”—Rambo
“God would have mercy. He won't.”—Trautman
“What you choose to call hell, he calls home.”--Trautman
Yawn. Maybe I’ve outgrown the Rambo franchise? I was 14 when I saw First Blood, I believe, and now I’m 38. Maybe if Stallone had set the movie in a timelier Iraq, rescuing Americans held by insurgents, or a trip back to Afghanistan to find Bin Laden, I’d care more. Maybe if he wasn’t so cavalier about his use of Human Growth Hormone in order to defy the aging process and make another trite uninspired movie full of bad cliché dialogue and astoundingly incredible marksmanship, I’d care. Stallone was busted carrying HGH into Australia, where it’s classified as an illegal substance, and was recently quoted as saying there’s nothing wrong with taking it and champions its use.
Of course, HGH also allowed Stallone to make a sixth Rocky movie, since 60-year old boxers who routinely wallop any and all 22 year olds who enter the ring are just so exceedingly commonplace. Dude, hang it up. You’re an aging Baby Boomer approaching Social Security eligibility. I’m not saying that older folks have to roll over & die, but I think you’ve passed the credible believability mark a while back.
Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have Rocky maybe become the coach and trainer for a new up & coming boxer who has to overcome adversity and keep your franchise going for another few flicks? Maybe Rambo should have been more of a mentor to train a new young-buck commando, perhaps even Tranh Phuc Ngyuen Rambo, the long-lost son you thought dead when you left Vietnam? Then again, that kid would be in his early to mid 40’s now and needing HGH himself to be the buff believable action hero too.
By the way, when I was in Military Police school, a couple guys in my platoon tried to emulate the Rambo scene of firing the M-60 with one hand. These weren’t little dudes, either, but big football players over six feet tall. (Stallone is five seven). An M-60 machine gun weighs 23 pounds, without the ammo belt, and fires 550 rounds a minute, or 9.17 rounds a second if my math is right. One-handed, it’s a bit off-balance, and after three to four rounds, the recoil kicked the gun almost vertical. Yet Rambo could do it.
C’mon, Sly. Retire Rambo and let him play golf on Hilton Head in the sun. He’s earned it. He never wanted this, but they drew first blood.