Sunday, November 15, 2009

“Rambo” – Grambo grabs a snake.

There are a lot of things in life that I don’t understand. String theory, Russian language, Cameron Diaz, and why people continue to pay actual money for movies that can’t possibly be described as entertaining. And please don’t point your finger at me and say I did it too. With my Netflix subscription, I contributed roughly thirty cents, considering it was in and out of my house in a day. I am not one of the idiots who spent $113 million in the theaters, though I did waste the same amount of time watching it.

I really have no one but myself to blame for the two hours of my life I’ll never get back. I’d like to blame my friend, who told me this was a pretty good movie, but he may have been putting one over on me. I’m not sure though since he also suggested “No Country for Old Men,” which was a terrible film. Either way, I will never listen to anything he has to say about movies again, considering his taste in films is roughly equivalent to that of a thirteen year old boy.

Just so we’re clear, I had no thoughts that this movie was going to be any good. It’s been twenty years since “Rambo III,” and it and its predecessor, “Rambo II,” were awful movies. They at least came out in the late 1980’s, which was when Hollywood was at its height of cranking out bad action movies. “Rambo” has no excuse for even being written, let alone being filmed at all. The first two sequels barely had any discernable plot beyond body counts; was there any chance that “Rambo” would be burdened with such a thing as a story?

As the writer and director, Sylvester Stallone would have you believe that his intentions were to make a film highlighting the hell that is the current situation in Burma (now called Myanmar, for all you geography nuts). Like half of Africa, it’s ruled by bloodthirsty dictators and militia who are engaged in genocide against the rest of the population. But don’t let Stallone fool you. If he wanted to shine a spotlight on Burma, he could have made the same movie sans Rambo. Instead, we get two-plus death per minute in high definition. Seriously, if you’re intent on watching this movie, wait at least two hours after eating and be sure you can stand the site of intestines, flying body parts, and arrows piercing skulls and eyeballs. Somewhere, there’s an entire city with empty blood banks.

This being Rambo, plus the fact that Stallone has no intentions of treading new ground, obviously there’s going to be someone he has to save, which is where a group of Christian missionaries come in, and a lot of people to kill to do it. The missionaries want to help (read: take this bible and I’ll stop the bleeding; this actually happens when they get there) the people who are being slaughtered. Rambo warns them not to go, they go anyway, and he ends up saving them. Well, most of them anyway. The film tallied up 236 kills, which is more than the previous three Rambo films combined, so their odds weren’t good to begin with. Anyway, I’d like to think there was some commentary on the part of the co-writer, stating that religious missionaries should mind their own business or die. I don’t mind people helping others, but this is how wars get started and no one ever seems to learn this lesson.

Besides the gratuitous violence and bible thumping, I felt that there was another underlying theme. Now, I’m not one to play Freud and read sexuality into things, but this film made it hard to miss. There has been a lot of commentary about the amount of homoerotic/homosexual/homosensual content of 80’s action films and this movie is really just an 80’s film that got lost for twenty years.

To begin with, here are two lines from the film, both said to Rambo:

“It has to be better than staring at the ass-end of a snake.”

“I’ve got enough cobras. Bring me a python.”

You see, Rambo’s occupation in Thailand is catching snakes, which he sells to a guy who employs young men to play with those snakes. If that weren’t enough, we find out that the head bad guy likes to rape under-aged boys and the team of mercenaries that are sent in to rescue the missionaries ignore a bunch of girls that are being gang-raped. Add the fact that the group of missionaries includes one female and Stallone spends half the film leaning on his rowing stick and you’re left wondering when Big Gay Al is going to show up. Though, I’m sure he would have been killed too.

Amazingly, the reviews of this film weren’t that bad. 37% of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were favorable, meaning that 37% of their critics can be categorized as slightly less intelligent than gadflies. Even the Razzies didn’t slam it for the tripe that it was and they love to nominate Stallone for their awards. I hated it from beginning to end and the only thing keeping me from adding myself to the body count was trying to figure out if Stallone has become a woman from all of the supplements he must be taking. That would at least explain his infatuation with snakes.

Rating: There is no way anyone could have talked me into seeing this movie in a theater. Whatever you paid, you were robbed (even thirty cents).

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