The Bloodening 

Rambo: Welcome to Idgit Valhalla!

"Endearing" isn't generally the first word that springs to mind regarding someone who kills Commie hordes for a living, but in Sylvester Stallone's case, it somehow applies. I mean, don't get me wrong—this isn't to say that movies like Rhinestone or D-Tox don't deserve to be buried in a lead-lined vault, but only to note that in his best films and (especially) talk show appearances, the actor can give off a mightily disarming vibe: Smarter than you'd expect, but maybe not quite as smart as he thinks he is.

Rambo, Stallone's attempt to keep ringing the retro cherries after the success of last year's Rocky Balboa, stays on the verge of being a rousing dumbass flick at all times—you've never seen so many mid-air organs—yet its combination of outrageous bodily trauma and beagle-eyed moments of reflection never quite makes it go over the top. Stallone's script finds our hero recovering from the events of 1988's Rambo III (AKA "the one where he drove a tank into a helicopter") by catching cobras in Thailand. Said idyllic life is disrupted, however, with the arrival of a bunch of clueless do-gooder Americans attempting to cross the border into Burma. When they get captured by a cartoonishly evil platoon of soldiers, Rambo reluctantly teams up with a stereotyped bunch of mercenaries to stomp righteous ass.

It's only in this final act, particularly when Stallone gets the chance to go ape-shit with a Jeep-mounted machine gun, that Rambo starts to approach the kind of idgit Valhalla that it's been promising all along. Body parts go flying, blood gets applied with a fire hose, spleens decorate the trees, and the film becomes almost a perfect replication of those smeary propagandist war comics that can be found at your sleazier yard sales. All it needs, really, are some word balloons saying "Arrgh!" and "You die, G.I.!"

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