(director/writer: Sylvester Stallone; screenwriters: Art Monterastelli/characters by David Morrell; cinematographer: Glen MacPherson; editor: Sean Albertson; music: Brian Tyler; cast: Sylvester Stallone (John Rambo), Julie Benz (Saran Miller), Ken Howard (Arthur Marsh), Paul Schulze (Michael Burnett), Matthew Marsden (School Boy), Graham McTavish (Lewis), Tim Kang (En-Joo), Rey Gallegos (Diaz), Jake La Botz (Reese), Maung Maung Khin (Tint); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kevin King – Templeton/Avi Lerner/John Thompson; Lionsgate; 2008)

“Leaden action picture.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 4th installment of the Rambo series returns with its senior citizen (60-something) Sylvester Stallone (“Paradise Alley”/”Rocky Balboa”) as star, writer and director in this leaden action picture. Rambo is the world-weary, laconic, mumbling, iconic “killing machine,” who supposedly never ages.

Vietnam War vet John Rambo is a mentally tortured soul living quietly in a Northern Thailand fishing village, where he sells snakes and operates a boat. Across the border in Burma a long-lasting bloody civil war rages. Rambo is approached by American Christian missionaries Sarah (Julie Benz) and Michael Bennett (Paul Schulze) to transport them in his boat up the Salween River to Burma so they can dispense medicine, supplies and prayer books to the needy Karen villagers. After he reluctantly brings them to their destination, he becomes concerned when they don’t return. Rambo then goes in search of them with a team of tough mercenary soldiers (Graham McTavish, Matthew Marsden, Tim Kang, Rey Gallegos, Jake La Botz) and rescues them from captivity from the Burmese junta’s army camp.

It’s a nostalgia action film that’s filled with graphic bloody killings (by bombs, stabbings, bow and arrows, hand guns, machine guns, and physical force). One mercenary exclaims, “I’ve seen some shit, but never shit like this.” That’s exactly how I felt about this unintentionally funny exploitation fantasy film.

Rambo Poster