On The Couch 2011 #18: Rambo

The Rambo franchise is in competition with the Star Wars franchise for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Confusing Titles. You might think Rambo is the first movie in the franchise. Nope, it’s the fourth. The first movie with Rambo in the title is Rambo: First Blood Part II, a subtitle that was often dropped until the recent subtitle-less Rambo was released. The only title in the franchise that is clear is the much derided Rambo III. Say what you will about that movie, but it’s got III in the title and it’s the third movie of the series.

Rambo is as full of current over-the-top action movie cliches as Rambo III was for 1980s over-the-top action movie cliches. Yet, it’s Rambo III that Rambo fans will usually apologize for, while touting this one as “OH MY FUCKING GOD! IT’S SO BADASS!” The giant machine gun mowing ripping enemy soldiers in half is as silly as the Rambo lighting fire through his open wound scene in Rambo III. Sure, Rambo’s script doesn’t have the mysticism that romanticized John Rambo’s allies in Rambo III, but at the end of the day, that shooting fire through himself scene from Rambo III cannot be topped.

Seriously, what beats this?

What’s the most disappointing part of Rambo? Without a doubt, it’s the lack of Trautman. Sure, Richard Crenna died in 2003, and they did use flashbacks of Trautman talking to Rambo from First Blood, but it’s not the same. Trautman is favorite character in the Rambo series. He’s as flawed as Rambo. He was one of the few people who cared from Rambo, and at the same time manipulated Rambo when it benefited him. I would have liked to have seen Rambo reacting to the news of Trautman’s death. Maybe the minister travelling up river could have arrived with a recommendation letter from Trautman?

Speaking of Minister Michael, his character seemed to go through the biggest arc in Rambo. After first meeting John Rambo, Michael threatens to report Rambo for killing the pirates that were going to rape Sarah and kill Michael and the rest of his missionary group. He didn’t even say “Thank you for the whole us not dying there thing” before chastising Rambo. But by the end of the movie, he’s beating a soldier’s skull in with a rock.

I really enjoyed the ending, with John walking down the highway to his family homestead. But how awesome would it have been if Brian Dennehy drove up to him at this point and acted like a dick to him again? Just end the movie on Rambo’s eyes right there. They couldn’t even bring Dennehy on set for the day just to make this an alternate ending for the fans?

With the success of The Expendables, the newest Rocky and Rambo, I think it’s pretty safe to guess that if Sly Stallone wants to make another Rambo movie, aka Rambo II: First Blood Part V, it will get made.

My favorite Rambo movie remains Son of Rambow