Movies & TV / Reviews

Rambo: Last Blood Review

October 2, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Rambo: Last Blood
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Rambo: Last Blood Review  

Rambo: Last Blood Review

Sylvester Stallone– John Rambo
Paz Vega– Carmen Delgado
Yvette Monreal– Gabriella
Adrianna Barraza– Maria Beltran
Sergio Peris-Mencheta– Hugo Martinez
Oscar Jaenada– Victor Martinez
Fenessa Pineda– Gizelle

Directed by Adrian Grunberg
Screenplay by Mathew Cirulnick and Sylvester Stallone, based on a story by Dan Gordon and Sylvester Stallone and based on the character created by David Morrell

Distributed by Lionsgate

Rated R for strong graphic violence, grisly images, drug use, and language.
Runtime– 89 minutes


Rambo: Last Blood, or Rambo 5, really isn’t a Rambo movie. Yes, Sylvester Stallone stars in it and he plays a guy named John Rambo, Rambo is a Vietnam vet with serious shell shock issues, and he has access to a big goddamn knife, but Last Blood never really feels like it’s part of the other four movies in the Rambo franchise. Last Blood is something else. As an action movie, Last Blood is pretty good. As a Rambo movie, Last Blood is a bit of a disappointment.

Rambo: Last Blood has Rambo living on a ranch somewhere in Arizona. Since coming back to America to live and whatnot, he’s been breaking and training horses and, when he has free time, building an intricate series of tunnels underneath the ranch he lives at. Rambo has also been looking after Gabriella (Yvette Monreal), the teen daughter of an old female friend that died of cancer, and her grandmother Maria (Adriana Barraza). It’s a steady existence for Rambo and, to a certain extent, he likes it. It’s different than anything he’s experienced since the war. Again, Rambo likes it. Rambo’s life starts to change, though, when Gabriella announces that she wants to meet her father, who lives in Mexico.

Now, Gabriella’s father, as Rambo, Maria, and the audience know (because Rambo and Maria explain) that Gabriella’s father is a terrible person. In fact, Rambo almost killed Gabriella’s father at one point in the past, but he held back. Gabriella knows all of the stories, but she’s still curious about her father and wants to meet her. With the help of her friend Gizelle (Fenessa Pineda), Gabriella finds out where in Mexico her father lives and concocts a plan to go there and meet him. Rambo tells her not to go, and she promises her “Uncle John” that she won’t go, but she ends up going anyway.

When Gabriella gets to Mexico (she drives there) and finally meets her father, it doesn’t go well, as her father doesn’t want anything to do with her. Dejected, Gabriella just wants to go home. However, Gizelle has other plans for her friend. She wants to take Gabriella to a club to “let off some steam.” Gabriella goes to the club, lets off some steam, and ends up getting drugged and kidnapped and forced into a brothel run by two notorious human traffickers (Victor and Hugo Martinez, as played by Oscar Jaenada and Sergio Peris-Mencheta).

Rambo finds out that Gabriella went to Mexico and is now missing, flips out, and decides to go to Mexico to bring her back home. He first tracks down Gizelle, threatens to kill her, gets the necessary information out of her (Rambo can be very persuasive, especially when he’s got a big fucking knife), and then heads to the club to find the scumbag that took Gabriella. Rambo finds the guy, completely destroys him (Rambo stabs the guy, then jams his finger into his skin and pulls out his collar bone, and he does this all while the guy is awake and alive), and continues his search. Rambo next heads to a house in a downtown area where he believes Gabriella is. While here Rambo is surrounded by the Martinez brothers’ gang, mugged, and beaten to within an inch of his life. The gang doesn’t kill him, though, because the one Martinez brother, when he finds out why Rambo is in town, decides that it would be better if Rambo knew that his niece was being raped day in and day out for God knows how long, at least for as long as he’s alive before dying from his injuries.

So the gang leaves Rambo for dead. Then a woman that’s been following Rambo since she saw him in the club, Carmen Delgado (Paz Vega), appears and moves Rambo to safety. She allows him to recuperate in her apartment and, when he wakes up and is lucid, tells him her life story and why she was in the club. After hearing Carmen’s story, Rambo goes back to looking for Gabriella. He eventually finds her in very bad shape on the floor of a disgusting room. Rambo takes Gabriella home.

Well, he tries to take her home. Gabriella dies on the way back to the ranch. When Rambo does, finally, get back to the ranch, he decides right then and there that the Martinez brothers will have to pay for what they’ve done, along with anyone else that’s within the general area. So Rambo heads back to Mexico, goes fucking insane with a knife, and war is officially declared. When the Martinez clan realizes who is responsible for costing them money, the clan arms up and heads to Arizona.

Rambo will be waiting for them.

At barely 89 minutes, Rambo: Last Blood moves swiftly and really doesn’t stop to breathe. Even when Carmen gives Rambo her life story the movie doesn’t really let up. It just keeps moving. For general action movie purposes, that’s great. There’s no point in stopping the story, halting the plot if it isn’t necessary. But, at the same time, Last Blood, being a Rambo movie, could have used a few moments of reflection and, well, local color, especially when it comes to the town in Mexico that hosts the Martinez brothers. Why is the town okay with the Martinez brothers running a human trafficking operation in their town? Why does it look like the local authorities are working with the brothers (Martinez gang members openly walk around with machine guns and whatnot, right in front of the cops? Why are they allowed to do that?). The answer is likely obvious, the Martinez brothers have the cops and local government on their payroll, but it would be nice to see that for ourselves. And who are the Martinez brothers anyway? I’m fine with them just being the scum of the Earth, but, at the same time, I would like to know a little more about them. What sort of bullshit in their backgrounds do they use to justify their horrendous “family business?”

And then there’s Rambo’s emotional issues as related to his shell shock from the war and everything else he’s done since then. He has a war flashback while in the tunnels. He seems to be taking pills to, maybe, help him deal with anxiety. Is that what’s happening? And on top of that, there’s a truly scary moment right after Rambo declares war on the Martinez brothers after Gabriella dies, he goes back to Mexico and kills several Martinez henchmen. While killing these henchmen, there’s a moment where Rambo smiles because he’s enjoying killing these people. Now, is Rambo simply enjoying the act of revenge he’s engaged in, or is there something else going on? Is Rambo revealing himself, in that moment, that, above all else, regardless of the circumstances, he enjoys inflicting violence on people? I know that Rambo is all about duty and protecting his family (he says as much as the end of the movie), but is there something else going on? Rambo 4 looked at that aspect of Rambo’s personality, but it didn’t really dive deep into it. Is Last Blood just doing that again, without expanding on anything?

And what’s the deal with Rambo not having long hair? Isn’t that part of his character? Isn’t that how Rambo sort of rebels against the world while also deeply loving his country? I think it is. And, yes, I know that Rambo is now a rancher and embracing the cowboy culture that goes along with it, but would John Rambo really cut his hair? I don’t think he would. I’m guessing that Stallone just didn’t want to grow out his hair for the movie or wear a wig, and, yes, it’s his movie, but it is rather jarring that he looks more like his Barney character from The Expendables instead of the Rambo the world knows.

At least he still has a gigantic fucking knife. And he still uses a bow and arrow.

Now, the movie’s action is mostly in the last fifteen minutes or so, when the remnants of the Martinez clan show up at Rambo’s ranch and Rambo fucking destroys them. There’s a bit too much CGI here, but, in an overall sense, what Rambo gets to do here is exciting, nasty, and, in a way, crowd pleasing. The traps Rambo sets for the Martinez clan are deadly as hell, and Rambo, when motivated, is the most dangerous man in the world. Heads explode, body parts fly everywhere, and the blood goddamn flows. I’d suspect that this portion of the movie will live on forever on YouTube and be re-watched millions of times by people the world over. The exploding heads are pretty spectacular.

The ending will likely divide people. On one hand, what Rambo does to the final bad guy is cheesy and ridiculous. It’s also kind of insane in a non-horror movie context. At the same time, what Rambo does to the final bad guy is heartfelt (ha!) and to the point. Sometimes, it’s okay not to mince words and do exactly what you set out to do, even if, on paper, it’s, again, insane. I liked the ending. I cheered. In fact, I cheered quite a bit in the final action sequence. How often do you find yourself doing that in a movie theatre in full view of other people?

There’s also a moment right before Rambo finds Gabriella, where it seems like he’s trying to rescue other young women stuck in the same situation as Gabriella. Despite telling them to leave, the young women are too scared to go. In a “normal” action movie, Rambo might find a way to force them to leave, but in Last Blood that doesn’t happen. Rambo just moves on. Will future audiences accept that or will they count that as one of the movie’s “bad” moments?

Stallone does a good job playing Rambo. He’s fully committed to the part and manages to be one morose guy from beginning to end. He does show some lightness every now and then, especially around the Gabriella character, but for the most part Rambo is a serious, almost broken dude. When the violence needs to happen, Stallone ramps up his performance and becomes incredibly intense at times. Stallone seems to be more jacked than usual here (there are times where it’s amazing that he can move at all because he looks so goddamn big), but he can still do the necessary action and he looks good doing it. Last Blood has been advertised as the final Rambo movie, but Stallone has said that he would do more Rambo movies if Last Blood is a success. I don’t know if he should do more, but I do know that if he did I’d see the next one. Even if it isn’t truly great I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies.

Yvette Monreal is fantastic as Gabriella. You know that she’s probably being overly optimistic about meeting her father and young and stupid for going back on her promise to Rambo, but you can’t really hate her for her mistakes. You want her to live and succeed and be right, even when you know she isn’t. And Adriana Barraza is amazing as Maria. She sort of exists in the middle between Rambo’s negative, world weariness and Gabriella’s optimism. If only she could exert a little more influence on the world at large, you know?

Paz Vega does a decent job as Carmen, the journalist that rescues Rambo in Mexico. Her life story and what she’s doing in Mexico would make for a great movie, but I’d imagine that no one is going to make it. I’d love to know more about what else she knows about the Martinez brothers and what they’re up to with their business. You know they’ve got more shit going on.

And speaking of the Martinez brothers, Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Oscar Jaenada do a great job at being sleazy, irredeemable monsters. They run a business, they make money, and they do that by creating and exploiting human misery. What a bunch of scumbags. Again, I would like to know more about them and why they are who they are, but I’m okay with not knowing that. These guys sure know how to die.

Rambo: Last Blood, as an action movie, is pretty good. It’s not great, it’s not special, but it is pretty good. As a Rambo movie, it’s seriously lacking. Last Blood isn’t the Rambo movie anyone necessarily wanted. Will it have the same life as the other four movies in the franchise? I doubt it, but who knows?

Rambo: Last Blood is worth seeing, despite its deficiencies. Just be aware of those deficiencies ahead of time.

See Rambo: Last Blood. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Lots.

Explosions: Lots, both big and small.

Nudity? None that I remember.

Doobage: The Rambo theme on the soundtrack, a horse ranch in Arizona, a big knife, guns, pill taking, horse training, underground tunnels, knife making, a young people party, a dumb young person driving to Mexico, a sad family reunion, roofie hooey, bucket throwing, more pill taking, a brothel full of psychos, serious intimidation, choking, knife to the leg, full on collar bone removal, a mugging, a gang beating, serious face cutting, forced drug taking, medical care, more forced drug taking, off screen forced rape, hammer attack, hammer to the fucking balls, a weird “driving at night” scene, barbed wire fence destroying, dead body burying, serious knife killing, knife through the throat, off screen decapitation, a trap making montage, exploding trucks, a massive fire, multiple traps, multiple men on fire, shotgun city, spiky trap to the chest, multiple shotgun blasts to the head and we see the heads explode, spike through the head, bloody leg removal, on screen decapitation, knife to the head, multiple underground explosions, spike attack with overkill, more knife throwing, grenade hooey, chunky face hooey, a tunnel collapse, bow and arrow attack, knife through the chest, bloody heart removal, rocking chair hooey, and a riding off into the sunset.

Kim Richards?: In a way, yes.

Gratuitous: Sylvester Stallone, Sylvester Stallone once again playing John Rambo but is it really the same John Rambo as before?, John Rambo speaking Spanish, Vietnam flashbacks, a letter opener, John Rambo giving life advice, people moving back and forth between Spanish and English, John Rambo going to Mexico, John Rambo getting mugged, John Rambo’s driver’s license, John Rambo killing people, a severed head thrown out of a moving truck, a making traps montage, music, and an orgy of death and destruction.

Best lines: “Buenos dias,” “You know what this is? A small knife?,” “Show’em the tunnels,” “I can’t control what’s out there,” “Gabriella, I thought we had an understanding,” “It’s all right, she’s a kid,” “Uncle John! Sorry about everything earlier! It’s okay,” “Go on, get your Daddy, girl,” “I did not expect this. It’s been a very long time,” “All of this shit is because of you. I should have broken your fucking neck ten years ago,” “We cool, right? Fuck off. Get out of here,” “Nice blade!,” “Put your mark on him and his little bitch, too. And make it deep,” “Your truck is in the garage, by the way,” “I told you to kill that fucker!,” “I want to find the thin one,” “I want revenge. I want them to now that death is coming for them and there’s nothing they can do to stop it,” “Get him! This old gringo is nothing!,” “They’re all dead. All of them. I could have killed you ten times over. I wanted you last,” “You want to live? Follow the lights!,” and “This is what it feels like!”

The final score: review Good
The 411
Rambo: Last Blood is a pretty good action movie, but it isn’t a very good Rambo movie. It doesn’t even really feel like a Rambo movie. It feels like it’s meant to be something else. Stallone does a good job, and the action is superb, especially the last segment, so at least it has that going for it. It will be interesting to see what sort of life this movie has once it leaves theatres. Will it live on like the other four Rambo movies, or will it be considered a full on disappointment? And will we get another one? I know it’s called Last Blood, but Stallone has said that he would be up for doing more Rambo movies if people wanted to see them. I guess we’ll see if Last Blood really is the last one. I’m okay with the franchise ending, but if we do get more, yeah, I’m going to go see them. I’m a sucker for this kind of movie.