This 2008 epic sees Sylvester Stallone reprise his role as the legendary John Rambo, a former Green Beret. Diehard fans of the franchise were hesitant about the film being set twenty years on from the last film, Rambo III, but the film, directed by Stallone too, certainly does not disappoint.
Set in south-east Asia, the film starts with a group of Christian missionaries looking to hire Rambo as their boat guide into war-torn Burma. Their primary aim is to provide vital humanitarian aid to those caught up in a brutal government crackdown amid the Saffron Revolution. Rambo, now living in Thailand and working as a snake catcher, plainly refuses citing the extreme violence plaguing much of Burma. After some persuasion, Rambo agrees to help the missionaries, taking them up the Salween River where he leaves them to help the oppressed Karen peoples. After a section of the Burmese military kidnaps the missionaries, a group of mercenaries hire Rambo to lead them back into the hostile territory on a rescue mission.
Critics will say the violence is distasteful, but the film delivers a potent message when it comes to persecution. After the genocides of the 20th century, “Rambo” tells the moving story of a man who refuses to be a bystander as men are slaughtered, as boys are made child-soldiers, and as women are forced into sexual slavery. Despite progress made in standing up for the vulnerable, “Rambo” highlights that urgent attention is needed when there is repression, not just plain condemnation. Stallone exemplifies the complexity of Rambo’s personal struggles as was first seen in First Blood. Perhaps remembered as a modern warrior with a tough facade, this film provides the audience with a deeper understanding of the effects of war on even the most hardened soldiers. Credit must also go to Brian Tyler for his emotive score, and to Graham McTavish who superbly plays a foul-mouthed mercenary.