Review: Rambo IV (2007)
Sylvester Stallone (Sly) looks like he hasn’t aged a day since his last slew of Rambo movies twenty-odd years ago. Fack me, I want whatever monkey-gland anti-aging shit he’s juicing himself on.
The past two decades haven’t changed his acting style either, but time has given him some extra chops when it comes to the credits. Sly is listed as co-writer, director, and I think also co-producer (although I kind of missed this bit as I was getting a drink).
The credits (which are amazingly long) are also instructive in other areas. No fewer than 20 “carpenters” are listed. Twenty carpenters? Given that the movie was shot in the jungle, what the hell did these carpenters carpent (no jokes about wooden acting, please)?
And how about 10 “plasterers”? Maybe they were there to fill-in the crevices on Sly’s face.
But wait, how about over 100 “drivers” (with one named “Oh”)? And that’s just in the first unit! The second unit listed more than 40 “drivers” (with one named “Joe”). Oh and Joe’s surnames weren’t listed, so unfortunately they’re going to have a tough time convincing their grandkids they were really involved in this cinematic masterpiece. Oh yeah, there was also a “salad and fruit hand” listed in the credits.
Bear with me, I haven’t finished yet. There’s also 16 “prosthetic effects assistants” listed. Aha, finally something that makes sense – once you see the amazing variety of body parts being smithereened by automatic weapons in this flick. And that’s what this movie is really about – heavy calibre weaponry and the intricate details and delicate nuances of what it does to the human body (edged weapon fans needn’t be put off, there’s plenty of chopping, slashing and disemboweling as well).
The movie is also a loving paean to the Burmese military junta. Well, no, not really. In the first two minutes the Burmese military is implicated in chemical weapon usage, monks being burned alive and “poor Christian farmers being exterminated.” The baddies also smoke and wear mirrored sunglasses.
The next few minutes of the film depict Sly living peacefully in Thailand, catching cobras in the jungle, shooting fish with a bow and arrow, feeding mice to snakes and telling some god-botherers to “fuck off.” Thus, his good-guy persona is quickly established.
As it turns out, the god-botherers want to go “up river” to a Burmese village to dig wells, build schools, deliver prayer books, etc. and want Sly to take them. Some feminine god-bothering guile eventually get’s Sly onside and they set off in his longtail boat. He takes out a few pirates on the way, drops off the god-botherers and sets sail for home. It’s all a bit Apocalypse Now, frankly; but the cinematography’s nice.
Sly – wearing his directors hat – was obviously a bit worried at this juncture that he may not have portrayed the Burmese military in a sufficiently unpleasant enough light, so a military attack on the god-botherers village ensues. This is some nasty stuff. Mortars blow people apart with limbs and guts flying everywhere. Soldiers bayonet kids and chop off limbs. They stomp heads, machine-gun anything alive into small portions and throw babies into a burning hut. It’s all disturbingly explicit (the prosthetic assistants certainly knew their trade).
The god-botherers get taken hostage and, yep, Sly has to head back up river again with a crew of bad-ass (and bad acting) mercenaries before the bad guys feed the hostages to the pigs (really). During the boat trip, director Sly tries to pull together some tough guy banter and bonding between Rambo and the mercs (a la Aliens, Predator etc.) but fails embarrassingly. Luckily, however, this doesn’t last too long before the hostages are rescued and the shooting starts. Oops, almost forgot the one-ton WWII bomb that Sly finds and manages to detonate to take out some tracking dogs. Oh yeah, and when he rips out a baddie’s throat with his bare hands.
But I digress. The shooting action starts serenely enough, with Sly shooting multiple arrows into a few baddies’ heads and throats, but moves quickly along to a full-on automatic weapons orgy. And it doesn’t take long before Sly gets his hands on a .50 calibre machine gun. The prosthetic assistants must have had their work cut out here. I’ve never seen bodies blown apart in so many fascinating ways. Limbs flying everywhere, heads exploding, bodies cut in two, legs cut off. It’s all here, and the killing is infectious. Even one of the god-botherers manages to pick up a rock to smash a baddie’s brains out with.
This is the major set piece of the movie and it goes on forever. Although I’m as big a fan of over-the-top violence as the next fellow, it even started making me feel poorly after 10 minutes. To deliver a happy edged weapon ending, Sly disembowels the chief baddie and we see his intestines spill out. Hurrah!
How the hell did this stuff pass the censors? They must be too busy in art galleries looking at corrupting pictures of 13 year olds.