The triumvirate has been disbanded. Once, from the mid '80s to the early '90s, three men—nay, three heroes—defined movie stardom. But two's company and three's a crowd: Arnold turned political, Bruce figured out how to straddle the chasm between blockbusters and respect, and Sly... well, Sly took the hit.
This weekend brings us Rambo, Sylvester Stallone's latest attempt to recapture his glory. (Anyone remember 2006's Rocky Balboa? Anyone?) Rambo wasn't screened for critics, which is about a 99.5 percent reliable indicator that it's fucking terrible. But while Rambo is Sly's most shameless stab at regaining his action hero status, it's merely the latest in a long string of fuck-ups.
Though some Stallone scholars would argue earlier—with Judge Dredd (1995) perhaps, or Assassins (also '95), The Specialist (1994), or Daylight (1996)—Stallone didn't really hit the skids until 1998, when he voiced one of the characters in Antz. (Yeah, so did Woody Allen—but hearing Alvy Singer's whine coming from a CG bug is a lot less disheartening than hearing Rocky's.) Prior to Antz, Stallone's films had done reasonably well, and he'd scored props for his dramatic turn in '97's Cop Land. Afterward, it was stuff like Get Carter (2000), Driven (2001), and Eye See You (2002, straight to video, and yes, that title is for real). By the time Stallone was killing time with Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), it wasn't much of a stretch for him to slum it on TV with Las Vegas.
Stallone's later stuff threatened to obliterate everything cool that had come before: The Oscar-winning Rocky (1976), First Blood (1982), Cobra (1986), Over the Top (1987), Tango & Cash (1989), the epic year of '93 (both Cliffhanger and Demolition Man!). Those are remembered, sure, but it's hard not to also recall Sly's astonishingly ill-advised comedies Oscar (1991) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992). So is it any wonder that Stallone's returned to low-budget flicks in which he punches and/or shoots bad guys? Sure, it's awkward, and there's that skeezy sheen of desperation to it all, but hey... dude's got bills to pay, and god knows Planet Hollywood has seen better days.