We probably need another Rambo movie like a hole in the head … or arm, or chest, or neck, or … But then, the relatively young audience that saw Rambo No. 4 with me seemed to enjoy it. (I'll get back to them in a bit.)
No one's confusing the Rambo films with high art, but the first two are still classic entries in the "one-man-army" action genre. And though the franchise has remained dormant for 20 years, Sylvester Stallone's characterization remains one of the most iconic in film history. The name is practically synonymous with G.I. Joe. (Anyone else remember the '80s action figures and cartoons? Sing along now: "Rambo … the force of freedom!")
What brings an aging action hero out of such lengthy retirement (besides the potential for big bucks)? Stallone was open to a sequel when offered the opportunity, provided that the story was meaningful. Like something involving human rights, genocide, and missionaries? Yeah right, in a Rambo movie? The popular actor/writer/director hinted at it when he talked to us about Rocky Balboa, and he's remained true to his word.
Filmed in Thailand, Rambo indeed takes place 20 years after the last film. The aging, world-weary Vietnam vet has secluded himself from civilization, fishing and selling poisonous snakes at a small village while running a longboat service on the Salween River. A group of missionaries from Colorado (New Life? Focus on the Family?) locates Rambo to charter his service. Their destination is Burma (aka Myanmar), bringing medical supplies and Bibles to the persecuted Christians there.
Rambo is naturally reluctant. The Burmese-Karen conflict is the world's longest running civil war—60 years and counting. As the prologue to the movie notes, poor Christian ...1