Rambo is invincible. There are no two ways about it. You push that 'Nam veteran Green Beret into a conflict zone, and even if the world might bloody implode, he's going to swagger out all sweaty and superior.
That's the rule, deal with it.
Last night I explored a most amusing IMDb message-forum debating which cinematic character could actually *defeat* Rambo. Chuck Norris was in with a shout, but essentially it was all Rambo's game. Even Neo from The Matrix, apparently, would shrivel up at the sight of the red bandanna.
Now, the immortal John Rambo, back on the screen after 20 years, is tackling a nightmarish genocide situation in some hellhole. What is it like?
It's like Rajnikanth starring in Blood Diamond.
By itself, honestly, one is forced to admit that might be a workable idea -- and is that Shankar I spy, scribbling down notes and rewatching Edward Zwick's film? -- especially if done zany and very camp, but the problem with revamping a franchise is that you need to let go of the nostalgia and take a dive, to make a fresh start of things.
This film fails, and fails bad.
John James Rambo, apparently, has made his peace. He fishes with a bow and arrow in some hills close to Burma, and seems to get by happily selling cobras and abusing the locals in English they are clueless about. Then comes a group of Bible-carrying world changers, and while Rambo is wary of these missionaries right from the start, he becomes an ally after the gang gets stuck in the horrible Burmese genocide.
The film opens with documentary-ish clippings informing you briefly of the situation in Burma, and that's pretty much all the dialogue the film has. Rambo speaks in his trademark grunts, and it doesn't help that those guttural sounds are emitting constant cliches. There is a group of mercenary soldiers, sure, who all speak in ridiculously exaggerated accents and pretend like they're in a Platoon spoof.
The rest of the time there are groans and screams and bullets. And Rambo, boring in his absolute invulnerability, mowing down the enemy with coincidental precision and brutality. Whatever happened to good guys finishing last?
And there aren't even any great action set-pieces to make up for the total predictibility. All we have is the hint that romance still breathes within Rambo's lungs. Maybe Stallone, directing this time again, did realise he needs to have an actual character up there, and thought mistakenly that a silent stirring in his loins was enough to separate Rambo from The Incredible Hulk. No go.
It's sad, really. John McClane managed to give us the bang for our popcorn buck with Die Hard 4.0 after Stallone himself crafted a masterwork to end a legacy with Rocky Balboa. The magic was in taking those aging characters and finding the human inside them, finding their flaws as they adjusted gradually to newer environments.
For Rambo, nothing's changed, and it never does. Unfortunately, the world's moved on.