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Coming off the success of 2006's ROCKY BALBOA, action star Sylvester Stallone revisits yet another of his iconic characters from the 1980s, John Rambo. Now living like a hermit and wrangling rattlesnakes in Thailand, Rambo is drawn back into the action by a group of do-gooder missionaries who want the taciturn, possibly psychotic, Vietnam vet to ferry them upriver into Burma. Though he initially proves reluctant--"Burma's a warzone"--Sarah, played by Julie Benz, convinces Rambo of their noble intentions. Doesn't he want to relieve suffering and stop ethnic cleansing? But when the group of idealists gets captured by the Burmese army, it's up to Rambo and a team of multinational mercenaries to save the day. What follows is an exhilarating, hypnotic explosion of violence as Rambo fights genocide with genocide, turning men into hamburger meat with high-powered machine guns, well-placed bombs, razor-sharp machetes, and, the most deadly weapon of all, his bare hands. Rather than trying to update the character, RAMBO succeeds largely by returning to the Reagan-era values that made its hero so great in the first place: his pathological obsession with laying waste to emphatically evil characters in increasingly grotesque ways. Indeed, the film's action sequences recall the opening of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, as bodies turn to reddish slush, entrails pour forth with abandon, and limbs are severed with bewildering frequency. Stallone (who also wrote and directed) perfectly embodies his role, a muscular, mumbling killing machine that recalls, in all the best of ways, Karloff's Frankenstein monster. While some may take issue with RAMBO's brutal onscreen violence, the film has an undeniably cathartic impact that has less to do with realistic storytelling, and more to do with the power of myth.
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