Friday, January 25, 2008

RAMBO... Really?

I can't imagine that there will be many times when you'll see 'subtle' near Sylvester Stallone's name. He's always been an outsized personality, who did things in a big, often heavy handed way. To be fair, occassionally he leads with a very big heart. If you consider 2006's "Rocky Balboa", Stallone did the almost unimaginable: He made you care once again about the Italian Stallion, in a small character driven drama that contained so much heart and compassion, that it really didn't matter if Rocky fought in the movie or not. The scene when Rocky just breaks down in front of Paulie (Bert Young) over the death of his wife, is probably the best acting I've ever seen Stallone do.

When I found out that 'Rambo' was a reality, I thought that all of the good will that Stallone had just generated would go right out the window. However, I went to see it this evening at the Arclight and sat in a full house with the most vocal Arclight audience I've ever been privy to.

The story concentrates on the 60 year civil war that's been going on in Burma and the missionaries who are captured and tortured trying to help native villagers. The reluctant Rambo leads a team of mercenaries on a mission of recovery, revenge and wholesale slaughter.

This is one of the goriest films I've seen in awhile. Thanks to the magic of CGI, Stallone was able to indulge every violent idea that he could think of in 'Rambo'. I wouldn't begin to try to guess the number of mutilated, machine-gunned, machete'd, blown up, wild boar eaten, arrow through the head, throat ripped out bodies populate this film. When people are shot they literally disintegrate.

Stallone does a service by bringing the ongoing horrors of Burma to the minds of moviegoers. I guess for some film fans, just seeing Rambo back in action is cause for celebration. It's a tough but watchable picture that ultimately doesn't have the depth that Stallone was looking for, but as writer/director/producer, for better or worse, he'll always be able to say 'I did it my way'.

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