What is the difference between Stephen Spielberg and Sylvester Stallone as a director?  Spielberg uses horribly violent imagery for setting and Stallone uses it as a plot.

Is that to say that the fourth (and likely the final) installment of the Rambo franchise is a bad movie?  Not exactly.

Stallone as John RamboAs the movie opens we find John Rambo living out his middle age hunting snakes in Thailand for local snake charmers or handlers or something completely irradiant to the plot, as nobody is shot while Rambo does this.  He is soon approached by a group of missionaries from Colorado who want to purchase passage on Rambo’s boat into Burma where they can provide aide to the victims of the Burmese civil war.

The missionaries find themselves in the midst of the war and those not killed in the assault on a village are taken captive. .

Much like the actual war in Burma the violence is depicted as senseless and horribly grotesque. No amount of Bibles and medicine is going to stop the Burmese warlords from massacring these defenseless villages.

Much of the violent imagery is filmed off speed to give the effect that even the camera is being affected by the bullets in the air.

Speaking of bullets, this film holds no punches when visualizing the civil war.  The use of heavy artillery allows for no lack of exploding limbs upon contact.  The opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan actually seems tame in comparison.
 The majority of the film follows Rambo and a team of mercenaries and their attempt to rescue the captured missionaries.  These events are driven mores by action than by dialogue or plot twists. Though that may be unsatisfying to the more pompous moviegoer it brings a sense of realism to the battle scenes, that is if you forgive Rambo showing up out of nowhere on several just in time to save the good guys.

 Much like last Year’s Rocky Balboa it seems that Sly is trying to go back to his old franchises that went awry of their original intent and became almost parodies of themselves and give them the proper cinematic finale.

 Rambo is somehow both a statement film and an action movie.  The statement makes it a better action film and the action makes it a watchable statement film (aided in great part by it’s 86 minute run time) that never gets preachy. 

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