I think I’ll go ahead and give this movie 3 out of a possible 5 star rating (on the Shotgun movie scale.)
Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, this recent chapter in the Rambo legend, outdoes all the previous Rambo’s.
I was surprised at how short this movie was. Stallone has a point to make, and he doesn’t waste any time making it.
The utter destruction of human life displayed in this film makes it unsuitable for children, women, and the faint of heart. I caution against watching it, especially for entertainment reasons. Stallone’s message is of such a nature in this film, that I would advise weighing the value of it heavily against the sickening images you will be exposed to.
“If it’s so bad Shotgun, why are you giving it three stars?”
Perhaps, before I describe the underlying theme of the movie, I should say a few words about the plot.
We all know and love Rambo. After the last movie, he decided to retire to a peaceful life in northern Thailand, driving a longboat up and down the Salween River, (as well as selling the occasional king cobra to the local snake farm.)
Meanwhile, a few miles north of him, in Burma, hundreds of innocent people are being slaughtered by their government. (The slaughter scenes are the worst scenes of the movie, complete with flying limbs, and close ups of children being brutally gunned down.)
A group of white Christian missionaries (from America) hear the cries of these innocent souls, and are determined to plop themselves down into the middle of a war zone, armed only with medicine, books, and a complete lack of common sense. (I sure hope us white American Christians can manage to live up to the high standard that Hollywood has set for us!)
Rambo, being the local boat operator, is elected to deliver them to Burma. The only problem is, Rambo knows how stupid such a request is, and refuses to help them. In fact, he warns them repeatedly to just “go home.”
It takes a pep talk from Sarah, the girl of the movie, (played by actress Julie Benz) to motivate Rambo into helping the missionaries. She argues that Rambo must care about SOMETHING! They were going to try and “change things.”
” Maybe you’ve lost your faith in people. But you must still be faithful to something. You must still care about something. Maybe we can’t change what is. But trying to save a life isn’t wasting your life, is it?”
Rambo undergoes a change of heart (born again?) and decides to help the missionaries try to “change things.” He drives them upriver, and after a violent confrontation with some pirates, delivers them safely to Burma.
After a gruesome slaughter scene; the village, along with most of the missionaries, is destroyed. Sarah, and two of the men survive, and are quickly captured.
Back in the states, their pastor hears about their fate, and hires a group of mercenaries to retrieve his flock. Not knowing Rambo’s violent past, the pastor approaches him to carry the mercenaries up river. Of course, Rambo accepts. This ignites one heck of a montage, where Rambo begins preparing for war by forging his own knife. During the course of the montage we hear Rambo give a short commentary on his mental state at the moment, which belies part of the entire theme of the movie:
You know what you are. What you’re made of. War is in your blood. Don’t fight it. You didn’t kill for your country. You killed for yourself. God’s never gonna make that go away. When you’re pushed, killing’s as easy as breathing.
Rambo delivers the mercenaries to the devastated village, and when they see the complete destruction, they decide that the money they were paid was not enough to warrant facing such an evil regime. Rambo then delivers one of the greatest lines of the entire film. A line that personally inspired me:
There isn’t one of us that doesn’t want to be someplace else. But this is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something. Your call.
One long action scene follows. Rambo eventually rescues the missionaries, as well as his fellow mercenaries from certain death (or worse) and saves the day.
Why is this different than any of the other mindless, violent filled, flicks out there today?
I believe that Stallone has become a Christian, and is trying to show his new attitude through his recent movies. (Rocky, and now Rambo.) (To be fair, maybe he has been a Christian for a long time, and is just now influencial enough to show it in his movies.)
Rambo, like the mercenaries, was living only for himself. He didn’t care about anything else. In fact, he had broken off all relations with his father back in Utah, and was content with his life there in Thailand.
He has seen so much violence and depravity, that he had given up hope that any of it could ever change.
Sarah the Christian missionary convinces him otherwise. She gives him a reason to fight. His heart is changed in such a way that now, he is living for others…for something greater than himself…for God! (This new inner resolve is illustrated by the cross that Rambo wears around his wrist.)
When mens hearts are regenerated, they begin working to “change things.” Rambo convinces his fellow warriors that living for themselves was the same as “living for nothing.”
The theme of this movie is a very good one. It is better to die for something, than to live for nothing.
It is also, always great to see a strong, (probably Christian) hero, whip up on the bad guys.
Live for nothing, or die for something Christians.
God bless you Mr. Stallone for inspiring me with that message!